Montreal is getting another beach. On Sunday, Mayor Valérie Plante announced a commitment to open the shore of the Promenade-Bellerive, a riverside park in Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, to swimming.
On its website, the city says the park "is the only physical and visual access point to the Saint Lawrence River" in the borough.
"Montreal is an island. And we want to take advantage of that," the mayor wrote on Facebook.
"The goal is to make our shorelines ever more accessible, keep our shorelines healthy, and celebrate our insularity."
She said a years-long water quality testing process has proven the site is safe for swimming.
At a press conference, the mayor and local city councillors said the beach would include supervised swimming hours.
The mayor aims to open the beach to swimming in 2022.
Residents of Montreal's east end have long pushed for more access to the river. Port activity and train tracks largely cut off neighbourhoods east of the Jacques Cartier Bridge from the Saint Lawrence.
Plante pointed out that her administration has already delivered Verdun Beach and increased access to the Vague à Guy, a popular surfing spot in LaSalle.
The City of Montreal has announced that it will be moving forward with investments on seven projects that were selected by Montrealers.
The investment will come from the city's first-ever participatory budget, which allowed citizens to choose their favourite projects.
Over a two-year period, $10 million will go to seven projects that got the most overall votes from the population. Six projects will be spread out over 14 boroughs and one project will encompass the entire territory of Montreal.
"What emerges from the selected projects is the importance that people place on improving their living environment, protecting nature in the city and reclaiming public spaces for the benefit of the entire population," Mayor Valérie Plante said in a statement.
The following projects were selected for investment:
A budget of $2.7 million will be used for building more than 125 water fountains that will allow for refilling reusable water bottles in Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève, Mercier–Hochelaga–Maisonneuve, Outremont, Saint-Léonard and Ville-Marie.
Moving Day in Montreal is never easy, but for some, it's an awful reminder of the city's unstable and sometimes cruel rental market. The latter experience is what local housing advocates, the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement (FRAPRU) and the Comité d'action des citoyennes et citoyens de Verdun (CACV), brought to everyone's attention in a demonstration on June 30.
According to a press release, "banners were deployed in Villeray, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Parc-Extension, Verdun and on Plateau Mont-Royal on buildings where the tenants were evicted" to highlight "fraudulent evictions" and call for more social housing.
"While Montreal lacks affordable housing, rents are exploding," Veronique Laflamme, spokesperson at FRAPRU, said in the statement.
"With an average rent for vacant units of $1,200 and a median income of only $38,800, one wonders how many Montreal tenants have had to accept living in housing that is too expensive, too small, out of the way or unhealthy to have at least a roof over their heads and how many others are at risk of finding themselves on the street at this time."
The housing crisis in Montreal has been well-documented, with "nearly half of renter households under the age of 24 spending more than 30% of income on housing expenses," according to an April 2021 report by the Conseil jeunesse de Montréal.
Verdun has become a centre of housing activism — and problems
Verdun has become both a hotbed for housing activism and a microcosm of Montreal's housing crisis. You might remember those viral images of a huge lineup outside an apartment viewing.
In 2019, MTL Blog reported on the case of Karine Laviolette, an elderly Verdun resident who said she was being harassed by housing speculators and threatened with eviction if she didn't comply with their demands.
"There are still places in Verdun where rent doubles in one year and though that's not technically legal, companies get around it," Steve Baird, a community organizer at the CACV, said in an interview with MTL Blog.
"Verdun seems to be the place where they can flip the most buildings and make the most money."