At a public meeting to discuss the future of the Lachine Canal, people suggested improving bicycle paths, cleaning the water, and doing more to encourage those who live near the park to use it.

Parks Canada is holding public consultations on how the Lachine Canal should be developed over the next decade.

Since the 1980s parts of the Canal have been flourishing as a hub for recreation, but as Luc-Andre Mercier said, Parks Canada wants to do much more.

"We want to do many things but at this point we are working at a very strategic level," said the Director of Quebec Waterways.

Park staff have been working on a plan for two years and presented several ideas Monday at a public consultation.

Those ideas include: developing a strong identity for the Canal, improving services for visitors (such as adding more docks for boats), and developing programs aimed specifically at those who live near the Canal.

"We would like to work with them to have them come to the canal but also people on the canal to go to the boroughs, visit the commercial streets," said Mercier.

Several dozen people attended Monday's meeting, including St. Henri resident Derek Robertson.

He was keen to add more bike paths along the canal, but pointed out that allowing winter cycling would probably prohibit doing other winter activities by the waterway.

"If we wish to do winter activities, the plan is to put the cross country skiing path on the bike path, keep the snow there, if we do that there's no room for cyclng four seasons as they plan to discuss as well," said Robertson.

For years many people have suggested taking steps to ensure the canal freezes solid -- like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa -- to permit public skating.

Robertson suggested cleaning the water in the canal so it would be more likely to freeze.

"If we're going to have winter activities we can't have thin ice with warm water," he said.

Others suggested having Parks Canada change the designation of the Lachine Canal from a historic site -- which it has been since 1929 -- to a National Park, which would prevent development and devote more resources to the park.

Mercier said that once consultations are complete, the list of all ideas will be presented to the Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

"That we'll present to Minister McKenna for signature somewhere in the next month," said Mercier.

Comments on the draft plan can be made until July 1 at