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With a little good will, we could swim in the Old Port of Montreal

La maquette d'un bain portuaire au Quai Jacques-Cartier.

What you see in the photo above is a model of the City of Montreal's port bath project that was “installed” in the Jacques-Cartier basin in the Old Port. It would be enough to move the marina a hundred meters and we could accommodate 800 swimmers in the heart of downtown Montreal without harming navigation activities.

Quality water for swimming in downtown Montreal

The water of the Jacques-Cartier basin is suitable for swimming in dry weather: it meets the standards established by Quebec (maximum of 200 CFU/100mL) in more than 96 % samples during the summer period, from 2003 to 2022. The place is large, accessible and safe, which was not the case with the port bath project at end of Quai de l’Horloge that the City had to abandon last summer.

But the Old Port of Montreal Corporation says no.

“The place is dedicated to navigation”, decides the director of marketing and public relations for the Société du Vieux-Port. 

“This would go against the vocation sought for this sector of the Old Port. There is no question of transforming the basin into a public bath,” confirmed the vice-president, Real Estate (Québec) and Old Port of Montreal, Pierre-Marc Mongeau. 

Le Quai Jacques-Cartier à l'heure actuelle - crédit photo : Google Map
Credit: Google Map - Quai Jacques-Cartier now.
La maquette d'un bain portuaire au Quai Jacques-Cartier.
Credit: Google Map - The model of a port bath at Quai Jacques-Cartier.

Running out of arguments to reject the project, the Société du Vieux-Port reiterated its desire to “collaborate” with the City of Montreal on the Quai de l’Horloge alternative. But this project has been dead and buried for a year because it is not safe. Installed in the river, outside the protected area of the Old Port, this port bath project was exposed to a strong current and the risk of a broken down ship running aground there. Dangerous.

Port baths elsewhere in the world

After Oslo and Copenhagen, the Port of Quebec has announced its intention to install a port bath in the Louise Basin next summer (update: the port bath in Quebec has indeed been made official in the summer of 2022!). Here, the water in the Jacques-Cartier basin is of good quality, the place is protected from ships and it has all the potential to become a major recreational and tourism attraction for Montreal. All that's missing is a little goodwill! 

It's not because things are difficult that we don't dare, it's because we don't dare that they are difficult.

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