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What sports facilities does your town need?

Dorval is about to issue a call for tenders for an $18-million sports and aquatic centre. Construction is planned to begin early next year.

This is just one example of a growing list of sports infrastructure projects in the province. If you travel around Quebec, as I do, going from hockey tournament to hockey tournament, you see these facilities. It’s quite amazing.

These modern shrines to keeping active offer incredible opportunities. Some contain ice surfaces, others pools, running tracks, tennis courts, and many, a combination of some or all of the above.

So why are not more municipalities doing it? Grants are available. In Dorval’s case, it is receiving $5 million from provincial coffers to help build its new facility. The rest of the money – no small sum, about $15 million – will come from the city’s accumulated budget surplus. It’s money well spent. And given the provincial subsidies, it’s a smart way to invest. The services offered in athletic complexes speak directly to a community’s standard of living. They provide each resident an opportunity to invest, in turn, in their heath.

But for every town that is getting on this bandwagon, there are those that are squandering the opportunity. A perfect example is St-Lazare. And the reason: petty politics.

During the last election, the promise of a new indoor pool was a campaign issue. The former mayor was elected after making the promise to build such a facility if provincial grants could be secured. He was elected, the grants were secured and the project proceeded. But then a fractured council started playing politics. The project was eventually derailed. The opportunity has been missed.

If you were in charge, what sports facilities would you like to see in your municipality? Add your comments below.

Brenda O’Farrell

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