2. The Lachine Canal at the Dawn of the 21st Century: Looking to the Future
The directions intended to guide the actions of Parks Canada and its partners in the development of Lachine Canal National Historic Site of Canada over the course of the coming years have been established on the basis of a vision of what this site is destined to become.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the Lachine Canal is recognized for its heritage value, which is unique in Canada and perhaps even in North America. It is also recognized for its important role in cultural activities and tourism, as well as for its harmonious integration with the urban fabric of the greater Montréal area.
The preservation of the principal elements testifying to a crucial period in the history of inland navigation and the Canadian manufacturing industry, as well as the presentation of these elements, especially for educational and recreational purposes, provides a landscape through which the citizens of Montréal and other visitors can discover, understand and appreciate the factors that give this site its historical significance. To this end, Parks Canada, which is responsible for ensuring the conservation and presentation of building remains and evidence of the canal's role in the sections of the site placed under its supervision, co-operates with other levels of government and private enterprise in order to fulfil its mandate of preservation and communication.
Despite the considerable amount of work carried out on the corridor and a remarkable increase in the number of visitors along and on the canal, especially for leisure activities, the conservation and presentation of cultural heritage and the waterway remain central to the mandate assumed by Parks Canada in its Management Plan.
Restoration and recycling projects have been carried out on old buildings that are characteristic of a bygone era, particularly by local developers working on structures in industrial complexes, and this has made it possible to conserve important reminders of certain aspects of the former landscape. Now used for contemporary purposes, these components of the built environment have become an integral part of the cultural landscape and play a role in the modern economic and urban life of the city. Residents and visitors have an opportunity to decipher this landscape and discover the links that connect the site with its past.
The ecological health of the canal corridor contributes to the quality of life enjoyed by residents and visitors who use the waterway and green spaces for recreational activities that are suitable for the particular conditions of this environment. The presence of a park-lined waterway across the Island of Montréal and the restoration of a boating corridor between Lake Saint-Louis and the Port of Montréal have had a positive impact on the restructuring of living environments and sectors of economic activity along the canal.
The various partners involved—federal, provincial and municipal governments, private sector enterprises and community groups— have complied with shared objectives, and their concerted action has led to the establishment of functional and economic links between the canal and the surrounding area, thus creating a dynamic and attractive environment both for visitors and the citizens of Montréal. By sharing responsibilities, these partners have been able to manage the various sectors of activity harmoniously.
With respect to tourism, the Lachine Canal has become celebrated for its heritage interest, as well as for the quality of the spaces along its banks, the character of the built environment and the diversity of activities and functions that have developed around this urban corridor. Developers from both the private sector and community organizations ensure that a range of activities are developed to attract tourists now and in future years.
The site is developed so that its roles as a museum and a living environment dovetail fully and harmoniously. Residents, visitors and all Canadians are proud of this preserved, revitalized site and are proud of having contributed to giving it new life
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