Letter to Catherine McKenna on the snow-clearing of the Lachine Canal


The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

My name is Mathieu Murphy-Perron and I am a resident of Pointe-St-Charles in the Sud-Ouest Borough of the City of Montréal. I am writing to you today as you are the elected official charged with overseeing Parks Canada operations.

As you know, the path that runs along the Lachine Canal National Historic Site is used by over a million people each year, including tens of thousands of cyclists for commuting purposes. A third of my daily cycling commute is spent on the Lachine Canal path and it is undeniable the safest and most pleasant segment of my journey. Like many Montréalers, I now also commute to work by bike in the winter time and as such I am a fierce advocate for proper winter cycling infrastructure and services. While I applaud the 1 km snow clearing pilot project that Parks Canada and the City of Montréal undertook last year, I feel obliged to highlight its dangers and shortcomings.
It goes without saying that clearing but a single kilometer of the north-side of the Canal (roughly 3% of the path) does little to encourage cyclists to take use this car-free route during their winter commute. I can understand the logistical hurdles needed to pull off a complete snow-removal program, making it a political priority will undeniably create safer conditions for cyclists in the winter.

On a more personal note, I urge you to at the very least immediately extend the 1 km segment to allow for a north-south connection via the tunnel that runs along the Des Seigneurs bridge. Crossing that bridge in the winter to connect to or from the north-side cleared segment of the Canal is without question the single most dangerous maneuver of my commute in the winter. Last winter alone I came very close to being struck by drivers on six separate occasions while riding southbound.


Bridges and underpasses are notoriously dangerous for cyclists and many have lost their lives as a result of poorly-conceived infrastructure. Secure passages linking neighborhoods north of the canal to those south of the canal are needed if we wish to prevent more cycling injuries and fatalities.

The snow-clearing file of the Lachine Canal can often be a hot potato between the federal government and its municipal counterpart. The safety and security of cyclists need to be of greater importance than these basic political games. Solutions that could save lives are known. I ask that you show the political willpower to work quickly with your peers at the federal and municipal level in order to enact these life-saving measures.

I am available to discuss this matter further should you wish.

All the best,
Mathieu Murphy-Perron

Mr. Daniel Watson, CEO of Parks Canada;
Ms. Valérie Plante, Mayor of the City of Montréall
Mr. Benoit Dorais, Mayor of the Sud-Ouest Borough and president of the Executive Committee of the city of Montréal;
Mr. Luc Ferrandez, Mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough and responsible for environment, large parks, sustainable development and green space;
Mr. Éric Alan Caldwell, City Councilor for the Borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and responsible for urbanism, transit and files related to Office de       consultation publique de Montréal;
Ms. Marianne Giguère, City Councilor for the Plateau-Mont-Royal and  associate on the active transit file;
Mr. Craig Sauvé, City Councilor for the Borough of the Sud-Ouest and associate on the mobility and citizen services files;
Ms. Sophie Thiébaut, Bourough Council for the Sud-Ouest;
The Honorable Marc Miller, member of parliament for the Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs riding;
Gabrielle Anctil, spokesperson Ghost Bike Montréal