Lachine waterfront redevelopment to begin this year; boaters' lawsuit dropped

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A boaters' association has withdrawn its lawsuit over the proposed waterfront redevelopment in Lachine that will dismantle the existing marina.

The next stages of the four-year project will begin almost immediately, according to a statement from the City of Montreal also announcing the lawsuit's abandonment.

Public consultations will begin in coming weeks, said Robert Beaudry, whose portfolio on the executive committee includes large parks.

The city will also "offer, starting this summer, a transitional program that will include a variety of activities for all citizens," he wrote.

When it's complete, the revamped waterfront will be a park open to the public that will allow swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

It will also include a new preserved wetland for local wildlife.

The lawsuit, by a pleasure boaters' association called the APPPL, was filed in October. It claimed the city acted too quickly in making its July announcement about the redevelopment and hadn't been open to negotiations.

The city said it "welcomed" the news that the lawsuit had been abandoned.

"I have always had confidence in the integrity and the competence of the officials of the City of Montreal who worked to put together the waterfront park file... the solidity of whose argument has been validated by the attorneys general of Quebec and Canada," the mayor of Lachine, Maja Vodanovic, was quoted as saying.

She repeated a comment she also said last summer during the original announcement, saying the site "belongs to all of us."

The boaters' assocation saw it differently, saying Thursday that they couldn't compete with the city in court.

"The reason we backed down is the city has an army of lawyers, so to really fight the city and its legal team, to take us to court, to bleed us in court, is truly a David versus Goliath situation," said Martine Rochon of the pleasure boaters' association.

Over the summer, opposing citizens' groups faced off on different sides of the issue, with one group supporting the park plan and the other made up of marina users.

The citizens' group, Reclaim the Shore, was skeptical about the reasons the boaters gave.

"We were surprised to hear and to know that they dropped the case a couple of days before the decision," said Vicky Grondin of Reclaim the Shore.

"They say they have no money, but we highly doubt it," she said, adding they had "no case."

The transitional activities that will be in place this summer will be announced soon, the city said.

The last chapter in this saga? Like many current municipal debates, it may come in the ballot box in November.

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