Westmount city council has voted unanimously in favour of proceeding with its proposed new underground sports complex.
At a council meeting on Monday evening, two residents who spoke up to say Westmount Mayor Peter Trent and other councillors have the support of the majority of residents for their plan were greeted with rounds of applause.
The $38.5 million recreation centre will replace the existing arena and will include two skating rinks to be built below ground level, three outdoor tennis courts as well as a 25-metre, eight-lane outdoor swimming pool with a diving area and an adjacent toddler pool.
In addition, the new complex will house a teen centre, multi-purpose rooms, a pro shop and spectator seating in the arena.
"One of our goals has been to ensure that the project is envrionmentally friendly from all vantage points," said Westmount Mayor Peter Trent. "By building underground we are opening up vistas and adding one acre of green space to Westmount Park."
Trent boasted the project is one-of-a-kind. Westmount is investing an extra $1.5 million to achieve LEED Gold certification, an environmental stamp-of-approval reserved for energy-saving and sustainable architecture. Trent said the various energy efficiency measures will save the city more than $100,000 per year in operating costs.
But not all Westmount residents support the proposed project.
"With it comes...garbage pick-up, exhaust smells, french fries – not compatible with [what] Westmounters hold dear," said David Ludmer, who added the city should build an indoor pool in the existing arena and find a new location elsewhere for the city's much-in-demand skating rinks.
"The twin rinks will give us opportunities for our inter-city and house league teams to have more practice time," said Westmount's director of sports, recreation and community events, Mike Deegan. "We're hoping that will give us a better competitive program and allow our children to compete against other cities."
Westmount has collected $20 million in government infrastructure grants and expects to raise another $5 million in donations, leaving property taxpayers to make up the $12 million difference – or an addtional $200 in annual taxes for the average house.