New NDG sports complex unveiled

The $15-million Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Sports Centre near the Benny Farm housing development in Montreal's West End was unveiled Friday.

A $15-million community sports complex in Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce district will open Saturday.

The Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Sports Centre near the Benny Farm housing development in Montreal's West End was unveiled Friday by local leaders and provincial lawmakers.

The facility on Monkland Avenue in N.D.G. offers citizens access to two pools, a gym, a weight room and an exterior water play area open during the summer.

The project was funded by a $3-million investment by the City of Montreal, $5 million from the province, and $7 million from the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand and Borough Mayor Michael Applebaum were present for Friday's unveiling ceremony.

The complex is open to the public starting Saturday Jan. 15, between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. ET.

Less green space

The development consumed municipal park land in NDG, a loss of green space that concerned some residents when the project was in the planning stages.

Diane Chambers was part of a group of citizens who opposed the project's location. She said the building takes away from the little park space the community has.

"I don't feel so great standing here and seeing that it's in a park," said Chambers.

But the borough mayor argued the project created synergy between indoor and outdoor spaces, and the sports complex was also described as a green project on Friday, because it includes geothermal heating and a rooftop garden.

The sports complex's original site was a vacant parcel of land on the Benny Farm housing development across the street. During public consultations held in 2007, a majority of residents supported the project's original plans.

But the development was later moved to Benny Park, where an outdoor pool already existed. The project's new location was not an easy sell to many members in the community, but there was not enough opposition to force the project back on to the housing development lands.

Vince Circelli, who lives a few blocks down from Benny Park, said he's looking forward to using the centre.

"No matter what you do in a neighbourhood, there's always controversy; people for it, people against it. I think it's good for the neighbourhood," said Circelli.

With files from Nicole Robicheau