Grand Splash plunges Montrealers into St. Lawrence River
About 100 people dove into the St. Lawrence River Tuesday as part of the annual "Grand Splash" event.
Wearing lifejackets to ensure they would not get into any trouble if caught by the swift current, people jumped off the dock and into the water at 8 a.m.
Organizers have been trying to encourage the city of Montreal and the province of Quebec to create more waterfront access for citizens.
Water quality is always a concern in the St. Lawrence, and in previous years bathers have learned, sometimes after the fact, that they were splashing around in highly contaminated water.
This year the city of Montreal hired the Bota Bota spa to conduct tests and bathers were assured the water was safe for swimming.
The facility has a high-speed testing device that can evaluate if levels of e. coli bacteria are at a level safe for swimming in about 15 minutes. Tests to determine if water is safe to drink usually take at least 24 hours.
Among the bathers was Chantal Rouleau, the Provincial Minister Responsible for Montreal, who was part of the Bathing Montreal organizing committee more than a decade ago.
"I think it's important that citizens take a new look at the St. Lawrence and have access to the St. Lawrence. One of my goals in politics is to give access to the people to the St. Lawrence," said Rouleau.
Julie Sabourin, the spokesperson for Bathing Montreal, said it is ridiculous that Montrealers are not able to get into the water.
"We're an island and we believe that we should be able to access the beaches or the river. It belongs to everyone. It shouldn't be only accessible for companies," said Sabourin.
With reporting from Julian McKenzie