The federal government is spending $173 million to improve canals and waterways in Quebec.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was in Montreal to announce the lion's share of the money will go toward the Lachine Canal.

"The Lachine Canal needs significant investment to rehabilitate it, but also to increase access," said McKenna.

"I know a lot of people use it, over a million people use it every year, so it’s certainly a priority for us.”

Ottawa will spend $132 million in improving the canal's walls, spillways, and restoring the Gauron and Lafleur Bridges that cross the waterway.

“Not only do these investments ensure Canadian families and youth can connect to these incredible places, but in many cases they help ensure we are protecting and preserving the environment of these unique destinations,” said McKenna, adding that the canal is considered an important part of the national identity.

"I've spoken to a lot of people here. They're really excited to see the rehabilitation, much-needed infrastructure, and also to increase access," said McKenna.

“It's very good news -- not only for the canal as a historic landmark and infrastructure and construction, but also for Parks Canada who can again play its role as a partner of Montreal's development,” said Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montreal.

Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin said investing in the canal, which was built in 1825, is investing in the future.

“The Lachine Canal, as you know, the industrialization in Canada started there, in Lachine, southwest of Montreal,” said Dauphin.

The remaining $41 million will be spent on four other Parks Canada locations, namely the Ste. Anne de Bellevue locks, the Saint Ours Canal, the Carillon Canal and the Chambly Canal.