The threat of harm from contaminated water has rendered the Lachine Canal off limits to kayakers, canoeists and other small-boat operators until at least Wednesday morning.
The heavy rain on the weekend in the Montreal region caused an overflow in the municipal sewer system, and potentially contaminated water entered the canal.
Parks Canada issued a public security notice banning activity on the water for 72 hours Monday.
The precautionary measure is often taken after heavy rains. However, Parks Canada said the root of the problem lies with the city’s sewer system, which dumps excess into the waterway to avoid a backup.
No fix until 2017
Montreal is in the process of building a water-retention centre that will prevent sewage from entering the canal.
“The construction of this retention structure will significantly reduce the number of overflows and the amount of pollutants released during these overflow incidents,” city spokesman Philippe Sabourin said in a email statement.
“The aim is to reduce the number of waste water discharges to the Lachine Canal to once every five years, in accordance with federal requirements and regulations.”
The multi-phase project is slated to be completed in 2017.
Until then, sports and businesses that depend on access to the canal are subject to the whim of the weather.
Matthew Beinz of H20 Adventures, a company that rents kayaks and paddle boats on the canal, said the intermittent closures are difficult for the business.
“It’s really frustrating equally for us and our clients,” he said.
“Of course we lose money. As employees, we lose hours. And then for our customers, well, they can’t go out kayaking which is the biggest part of our business.”