Mount Royal residents fight to save Quebec's largest curling club from potential demolition

·3 min read
Sylvie Gravel is the executive secretary of the Town of Mount Royal Curling Club. ( Josh Grant/CBC - image credit)
Sylvie Gravel is the executive secretary of the Town of Mount Royal Curling Club. ( Josh Grant/CBC - image credit)

Supporters of the Town of Mount Royal Curling Club are rallying behind an online petition to preserve the club's building, as the town council considers repurposing the site for a new sports complex.

Since the club's board of directors launched the petition on April 15, it has collected nearly 1,500 signatures.

Sylvie Gravel, 63, a resident who has been a member of the curling club for a decade, says the town shouldn't build the new facility at the expense of curling.

"From a historical perspective, it would be extremely sad to destroy this building," she said.

Founded in 1952, the Town of Mount-Royal Curling Club has organized competitions, including the provincial Mixed Championship, the Canadian Gay Curling Championship and the Canadian Mixed Championship.

With six rinks, it is the largest curling club in Quebec and one of eight curling clubs available to players in Montreal and the surrounding area.

A long-term investment

According to a news release from the club's board of directors, in 2019 the Quebec government and previous Town of Mount Royal (TMR) administrations have invested more than $700,000 in the club to install a new refrigeration system, which has a typical lifespan of 25 years.

Destroying the building three years later, Gravel said, may make getting "grants for other sports facilities that you're trying to build" more difficult.

For Gravel, 63, the sport — often referred to as "chess on ice" — also serves as an important social activity for elderly players.

"I know that I'm not in top shape, …. but I saw in [curling] something I could do for a long time," she said. "Curling is more than just a physical activity. It's a cognitive activity."

The board has tried contacting TMR Mayor Peter Malouf for the past five months to discuss the club's future, but he has been unresponsive so far, the club's statement reads.

Josh Grant/CBC
Josh Grant/CBC

But Malouf told CBC News the re-examination of the curling club's headquarters is "a longtime coming," as residents have been waiting for improvements to sports facilities for years.

In 2020, TMR residents voted in favour of constructing a $48.7-million sports facility, which would include a pool. It would also be TMR's first municipal building to be constructed in a half century.

"I hear the curling clubs' concerns," he said. "I know they've written to me, but this is not against a curling club, this is for the population of TMR."

He said reserving the building for the curling club is difficult to justify given TMR residents' "limited" use of it relative to other sports clubs.

"We're talking 40 or less residents of TMR using the enormous building," he said.

"You want to make sure that you serve the greatest number of people with the installations that are owned by the Town of Mount Royal."

In comparison, he said, TMR's minor hockey program reaches 1,500 residents and the town's figure skating club draws 425 residents.

According to Gravel, 225 members, including those outside the town, make up the curling club.

Once Council completes its proposals for the site, it will share them with the wider population, Malouf said.

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