A dream come true in Côte St. Luc
Long-awaited Aquatic and Community Centre opens Sept. 6
By Joel Goldenberg, Suburban Newspapers, Aug. 31, 2011
Indoor pools and sufficient space for local community groups have been long time goals for successive Côte St. Luc councils, and after decades of wishes and hopes, the new Aquatic and Community Centre has finally come to fruition.
The new facility, which will officially open for business Sept. 6, came about with the help of the federal and Quebec governments. Each provided about a third of the cost of the $18 million centre, with the city providing the rest.
Some of the many notable facilities in the centre are two swimming pools — a 1.1 metre-deep pool for general use by the public and another, especially large — 10-lane and 2.6 metre-deep — pool for competitive swimming. There is also a large area, fully wired for sound, where groups like the Côte St. Luc Senior Social Club and Senior Men’s Club can meet, and where special events such as weddings can be held, which will also bring back revenue to the city.
A large crowd was on hand for a ribbon cutting and open house Sunday, presided over by Mayor Anthony Housefather. Also on hand were members of Côte St. Luc council, Senator Judith Seidman, Mount Royal MP Irwin Cotler, D’Arcy McGee MNA Lawrence Bergman, Côte St. Luc staff, former mayors Bernard Lang and Robert Libman, and representatives of sports associations.
“At one time, this building was just a dream,” Housefather said. “It was something the founders of Côte St. Luc one day contemplated…. One of the goals of our city council was to have a place in this community that gathers every generation, a place where people will look and say ‘I want to move back to Côte St. Luc.’”
Seidman, representing the federal government, said the centre “is the culmination of so much hard work and dedication on the part of so many, especially the efforts of you in Côte St. Luc.
“This type of facility is necessary to the vitality of community life.”
Cotler said Sunday’s event was “a celebration in every sense of the word.
“I think Anthony Housefather said it best — this is the realization of a dream, and that will make this centre a crown jewel for Côte St. Luc,” the MP said. “It will have a transformative impact on the people in Côte St. Luc.”
Bergman also welcomed the centre on behalf of the Quebec government, and joked that he “bothered” Quebec Municipal Affairs Minister Laurent Lessard “so much” to help fund the project.
Not long before Sunday’s ceremony, The Suburban was taken on an extensive tour of the centre by the very enthusiastic city manager Tanya Abramovitch and David Taveroff, director of parks and recreation. Taveroff pointed out that construction began Oct. 29, 2010 and was completed on time “and on budget.
“Before we started construction, we visited some newer facilities, older facilities, off island and even Gatineau,” he added. “We were trying to be inspired, and in some cases not inspired, by what we saw.”
The tour began just outside, where visitors are greeted by what Abramovitch explained are “the walking fish,” an artwork. “I love them, and kids will love them,” she said. “They’re so cute and whimsical.”
Other sights of note in the wi-fi-connected building were the mezzanine, which offers a spectacular overlooking view of Maimonides Park, close to the site of a future terrasse; the auxiliary library which has the look of an airport bookstore; parking areas for strollers, a family locker room which includes wider lockers and a water extractor to dry out wet bathing suits; and an office for the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Taveroff added that the temperature can be adjusted for each pool, providing warmer water for seniors’ aqua activities, and cooler water for competition. He also said that more room was wanted for competitive swimming and that the 10-lane pool is unique to Côte St. Luc. That amount of lanes was needed for competition using eight lanes.
The upper level includes the wired-for-sound multi-purpose room for local club meetings such as speeches and special events like a wedding, bar-mitzvah or business conference, adjustable according to the capacity and nature of the event, with an advanced audio/visual system; and a separate senior’s club lounge with items like a refrigerator and microwave oven, and room to play cards and watch TV; a teen/senior lounge (depending on time of day) with games, bean bag seats and a very large-screen TV, and an exercise room with state-of-the-art equipment which looks onto the pool area.
“In this building, there is always flexibility of space,” Abramovitch said.