As of this summer, citizens will be able to bathe in the waters of the Louise Basin, in a “port basin” the size of an Olympic swimming pool, a first in North America, learned Le Journal.
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The Port of Quebec will make the announcement this morning. The project is inspired by Copenhagen, which has built such facilities in the waters of its port.
The very popular Danish basin has spawned everywhere in Europe, as far as Paris, but in Quebec and North America, it is unheard of.
The Port, in collaboration with the Société des gens de bain, responds to a desire expressed for decades by open water swimming enthusiasts in Quebec.
Thus, we will develop a "port basin" delimited by floating docks and separated by cables into five swimming corridors, the equivalent of an Olympic swimming pool 50 meters long, in the waters of the river.
To this will be added a section of open water of 625 m2 and facilities. The whole thing is valued at $2.65 million and will be located behind Espace 400e, between the two Renaud docks.
The Old Port facility will be accessible free of charge this summer, towards the end of June if all goes well, until September; it will be able to accommodate 300 bathers.
This is the first phase of a larger project, L'Oasis, which the Port wants to set in motion to enliven its quays all year round.
Michel Beaulieu and Louis Campagna, of the Société des gens de bain, are convinced that this project has the potential to be part of the “Quebec brand image”.
Entertainment and catering
“Let’s imagine tables and umbrellas, entertainment, activities and a restaurant on the quays. We can think that the place will be extraordinary for citizens and tourists,” enthuses Mario Girard, CEO of the Quebec Port Authority.
For the members of the Society, it is a huge step forward to now have access to the river for swimming, and they believe that Quebec will be considered a pioneer that other cities will want to imitate.
“It puts Quebec ahead of the parade,” says Michel Beaulieu. Elsewhere, New York, Boston and Vancouver, which were already thinking about the question, could also be inspired by it, he believes.
“Excellent quality” of water
Bathers will benefit from very good water quality, assures the Society of Bathing People.
Many sampling campaigns have taken place over the years, and the results have always shown “excellent” quality, explains Mr. Beaulieu.
In addition, the clear waters of Louise Basin are protected from overflow episodes that occur elsewhere in the river.
For Mr. Campagna, a swim with a “magnificent” view of Old Quebec and the Seminary will be unlike anywhere else in the world.
PORT OF QUEBEC OASIS PROJECT
Investment of $2.65 million in the first year> Including $2.15 million for repairing the wharves and $500,000 for other expenses
Operating costs: $300,000 per year
The port basin is the first stage of a larger project called "Oasis", which the Port wants to set up to animate its quays over four seasons, in the heart of the city.
The Port and the Nordik Village organization, a non-profit organization, had been seeking for several months to extend the use of the quays throughout the year. The idea of the Oasis project was born in this way.
The Oasis of the Port of Quebec provides an event space that will be located behind the Espace 400e and can be visited in all seasons, with “unobstructed views of Quebec City, the Port of Quebec marina and the grain silos of G3 ".
Summer, like winter
The port basin project will occupy a large part of the summer. To this could be added a beach on the terrace, a yoga and relaxation area or paddle board activities.
In fall and spring, we imagine urban fishing, corporate activities, business tourism, activities for cruise passengers, rallies, running or a sugaring off.
Winter will make way for ice fishing and snow biking. An outdoor skating rink could even host hockey tournaments or an international pee-wee hockey tournament match, the Port dreams.
Village Nordik will be the manager.
Renovate the docks
It will be a good opportunity to renovate the quays, which “need love”, agrees the CEO of the Port, Mario Girard.
The first phase is the responsibility of the Port, with a contribution from Village Nordik. For the following phases, the federal government and the City of Quebec will be solicited.
"The goal is to be able to finance itself within five years," hopes Mr. Girard.
Already, business people in the sector are in on the action and are contributing $15,000. Village Nordik is also investing $65,000 in operations.
The Port hopes to enroll in a federal infrastructure program, which could provide a maximum grant of $750,000.
As for the City, it will be called upon to participate in operating costs, as is the case for Beauport Bay, explains Mario Girard.
The Port is betting that local merchants will find their account there, thanks to the traffic.
The pilot project will make it possible to evaluate the first phase and to make improvements and additions for the subsequent phases.
“We could think, for example, of permanent sanitary facilities”, he illustrates, because those which will be in place this summer will be temporary.