Counter-rallies planned as Lachine groups square off over riverside redevelopment

Facing the loss of the marina where they dock, Lachine boaters have come up with a proposal to share the space.

It’s the latest move in a fight that’s been ratcheting up in recent months, after the borough announced plans to turn the space into a riverside park that can be used by all.

Both sides are gaining steam. Park prononents are getting a lot more support, especially after releasing a Facebook video that helps people envision the project.

“Where that jetty is, you've got protected zones where you could so swimming in the future, have younger people go there, and it's safer because it's protected from the open water,” said Richard Cabana, one Lachine resident who wants to see the park.

“It’s a beautiful natural extension for the Rene-Levesque park as well.”

The group in favour of the project is called “Reclame ta rive” or “Reclaim your riverbank.”

Some supporters say that even allowing a partial marina nearby will pose a safety hazard if there’s a park with swimming.

“It's one place where Montrealers can come swimming,” said Marie-Eve Begin.

But the Lachine Boaters’ Association says no one was consulted before the decision and that compromise is needed.

“They can go through Parc Rene-Levesque and walk through the marina park place,” said Josée Cote, the president of the Lachine Boaters’ Association.

“The citizens can enjoy an open place with a park and green space…but we still have place to dock the boats, so it’s the best of the two worlds.”

The city has argued that it’ll cost millions either way, so it’s a good time to re-envision the space. After damage to the marina, they say it’ll cost $16.5 million to keep the marina going for about 450 boaters. Vicki Grondin of the Reclame ta rive group said that the riverside would otherwise be accessible to 1.8 million Montrealers.

Counter-rallies are coming up: the boaters are holding one at City Hall on Sept. 14, while the Lachine citizens’ group will hold its own a few days later, on Sept. 19.

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