The Lachine Canal is of major strategic importance to Montréal’s
urban development due to its structuring effect, its undeniable potential as
a recreational and tourism site and its special industrial heritage. The continued
involvement of the federal government and the Québec government’s
support are essential in order to ensure appropriate improvement of the area.
The design and implementation of interventions must be completed in cooperation
with the numerous stakeholders involved, including partners in the private
and community sectors as well as residents. The development potential at the
eastern and western ends of the Canal will require specific planning for Griffintown
(4.8.1) and East Lachine (4.8.2).
- Make the Lachine Canal and its surroundings a place of
superior quality by intensifying and diversifying activities and reinforcing
the overall character
- Improve the area’s accessibility, specifically between
the Canal and its adjacent sites
- Improve the quality of the adjacent living
- Reinforce the area’s recreational and tourism vocation
and protect its built and archaeological heritage
Cradle of Canadian industrialization, the Lachine Canal connects the Old
Port with Lac Saint-Louis. Inaugurated in 1825, it contributed greatly to the
industrial development of the southwestern part of the City, where a number
of working-class neighbourhoods grew.
After the Canal was closed in 1970, extensive work was done to improve the
area. In 1978, Parks Canada designated the Lachine Canal a National Historic
Site and proceeded with the creation of a linear park along its banks. Between
1997 and 2002, more than 100 million dollars were invested by the federal government
and the City. As a result each of the Canal’s locks was restored, the
Peel Basin was rebuilt, new bridges were built, new paths have been laid out
and many new green spaces and public spaces were designed. In 2002, the Canal
reopened to pleasure boating.
The private sector has also invested in the area. A growing number of new
economy firms are moving into the area and several residential projects have
been completed. However, an in-depth review in conjunction with the numerous
stakeholders is required in order to continue the enhancement of an area deeply
rooted in Montréal’s identity.
Numerous lots and buildings located along or near the canal remain vacant
or underused. In the area east of Autoroute 15 and in East Lachine a high vacancy
rate in industrial buildings points to an excellent opportunity for conversion
to mixed-use development. The Canada Post site, occupying almost 500 metres
of Canal frontage near the Saint-Gabriel locks, is an example of this potential.
The area also contains vacant lots with economic potential, most located between
the CP-Rockfield bridge and Autoroute 15. Many of these lots will require susbstantial
rehabilitation efforts for which the support of the federal and Québec
governments will be essential.
As part of Montréal’s waterside roadway, the Lachine Canal will
require interventions to reinforce the coherence of its urban landscape and
architecture while respecting the diversity of the adjacent areas. Work is also
needed to improve views of and access to the water.
The railway and expressway corridors that run parallel to the Canal impede
access to certain sites, especially north of Autoroute 20. Encouraging the development
of these sites will require improving their accessibility. The redesign of the
Turcot interchange by the Ministère des Transports du Québec will
be an opportunity to conduct a wider study of nearby infrastructure.
While several residential projects have been built in the area, an integrated
approach, developed in cooperation with different stakeholders, is desirable
in order to improve living conditions for residents. Actions are also required
to reduce nuisances, generated primarily by industrial activities, the expressway
and rail networks.
Important work remains to complete the enhancement of the Lachine Canal and
its surroundings and the reinforcement of its vocation as a recreational and
tourism attraction. Interventions will also be necessary in order to ensure
that the various users of the Lachine Canal recreational path (pedestrians,
cyclists, etc.) can share it safely and harmoniously.
Finally, the Lachine Canal and its surroundings are sites of great built and
archaeological heritage value. The preservation of the numerous industrial
buildings and engineering works found there, such as the LaSalle-Coke crane,
is essential to the area’s enhancement.