They are fuming, so what?

Boat owners unhappy with city’s $25M transformation plans for Lachine marina

 a bridge over a body of water: Plans are underway to transform the Lachine marina into a waterfront park.Plans are underway to transform the Lachine marina into a waterfront park.

The Lachine marina could soon be no more.

Montreal city officials plan to spend more than $25 million to turn the decades-old spot into a waterfront park that will be open to the public as of next year.

“A metamorphosis,” said Lachine borough Mayor Maja Vodanovic, “into a more ecological, friendly, weather-resistant place to be.”

The city expects to spend between $25 and $30 million over five years to convert the area into a bigger green space and to increase public access to Lac St-Louis.

“Also we have a lot more people in Lachine,” she said, suggesting the increased number of people taking advantage of the water and other clubs in Lachine need the space.

Read more: Montreal will hold online public consultations over Grand Parc de L’Ouest plans

Boat owners who use the marina, however, are fuming, saying the city should’ve given them more notice since many of them use their vessels as summer homes.

“It’s as though someone is taking your home away in the span of a day,” explained Sheena Lang who spends the summer living on her family’s boat.  “It’s like, OK, by next year, no more!”

She says other marinas are full and they will likely have nowhere to go.

But the city insists the waterfront needs to be open to everyone and wants to even build a beach next to St. Joseph Boulevard.  Part of the plan also includes possibly building a marsh to protect the eroding shoreline.

“I mean some trees are going into the water all over the place,” Vodanovic pointed out.

Still, boat owners claim that closing the marina would be a huge loss.

“Totally ridiculous,” insisted Richard Rolland who said he’s lived on his boat part-time for 20 years. “There are over 450 boats that are bringing a lot of money to the city and all the merchants,” he told Global News.

Read more: Montreal planning to create largest urban park in Canada

The marina is run by a private club but is on city land, according to Vodanovic, and membership fees barely cover operational costs.  The borough mayor explained that just maintaining the old infrastructure and the eroding waterfront would have cost $17 million.

“To continue investing public money into a private marina was kind of questionable,” she noted.

Some residents, like Guy Brazeau who lives across the street from the marina, likes the city’s plans.

“If they’re spending $25 million on improving this area, we can take it,” he said, “especially if is to create more green space.  People need it.”

Boaters have started a petition to get city officials to change their minds.  Authorities plan to consult with residents for a year on the final layout of the park.  Construction to restore the eroding shoreline will start in a few months.

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