MONTREAL -- Montreal mayoral candidate Valerie Plante took to the city's shoreline on Sunday to pledge more public access to the waterfront.

Despite the St. Lawrence River's reputation of being polluted in some areas, Plante says it is clean and ready to swim in.

If elected Nov. 7, Plante said there will be a new city beach in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve by next summer.

"There will be access and de-limitation for people to swim in and there will be security for families," said the Projet Montreal leader. "Our goal here is really to make this beautiful local park even more accesible."

A beach would be welcome news for residents near Promenade Bellerive Park looking to get on and in the water.

"We live on island and don't really use water," said one resident. "It would be good with summer getting hotter and hotter and would be good for citizens."

As more people took to the water during the hot pandemic summer in 2021, a new lifeguard-supervised beach is welcome news for the Lifesaving Society.

"We recommend to always choose a supervised area when those risks are monitored daily and the lifeguard there," said society director Francois Lepine. "If there's a problem, they will intervene to save a drowning."

Water access for surfers and swimmers in Verdun were both initiatives during Plante's administration, but concerns over water quality in the past have forced swimmers out of the water.

"The issues with every beach around the river is when it rains, there's sewage overflow and then the water goes right in the river so it's hard for the not suitable for swimming," said Fondation Rivieres director Andrew Belanger.

For example, the city and province are still working to decontaminate the river bed at the recently-opened Plage de l'Est in Pointe aux Trembles and make it suitable for swimming.

Plante said the water around the island is monitored, but didn't offer a solution to the rainwater and sewer runoff.

"We are definitely not playing with people's heath at all," she said. "If there's any reasons why people shouldn't be in water, we let them know but water is clean here."

Both the Lifesaving Society and Fondation Rivieres have said the Promenade Bellerive Park will be suitable for swimming.