The Lachine Canal, declared to be of national historic significance in 1929, was transferred from the Department of Public Works to Parks Canada in 1978 under the Recreation and Conservation Agreement (RCA) Program. This program is intended to safeguard the cultural and natural resources of Canada’s heritage and place certain facilities and equipment at the disposal of the public to ensure that these resources are accessible and that their cultural value and recreational assets can be enjoyed.
At the time of its transfer, the canal was already closed to navigation, and certain facilities that exist at present, such as the bicycle path, had previously been developed by the Department of Public Works.
In 1979, after inventory and planning studies had been conducted, the Lachine Canal Management Plan was ratified by the minister responsible for Parks Canada. The objectives identified by the Plan consisted of preserving the canal’s heritage resources and enhancing them by developing spaces and public facilities for cultural, community and recreational purposes.
According to this Plan, the functional and spatial organization of the canal property was defined as a corridor of activities, punctuated by crossways (access points, links, integration with the surrounding urban environment) and wayside stops (centres of special interest, interpretive elements, rest areas, etc.) and extending between the historic centres of Lachine and Old Montréal, which are considered as the gateways to the corridor.
The present Management Plan is based on the general concept established by the first Plan but also takes into account Parks Canada’s foremost and fundamental goal of ensuring the commemorative integrity of the site. Other factors taken into consideration in updating the concept include developments in the heritage, environmental and urban context surrounding the Lachine Canal and Parks Canada’s responsibilities with regard to education, partnerships and the generation of revenues.
The new Management Plan reflects Parks Canada’s general policies and is the outcome of a planning process that began in 1995 and was consequently enriched by a public hearing. This process made it possible to establish directions that were adapted both to the new conditions that now prevail and to tendencies foreseen for the future. The Plan puts forward various projects and management measures that should be implemented within the next five years, particularly with a view to ensuring the commemorative integrity of the site. The Plan also presents a vision for the future of the site, as well as long-term strategic directions. Finally, the Plan briefly identifies a number of projects whose implementation cannot be planned at present but which may become feasible in future if the necessary financial conditions or partnerships are in place.
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