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Westmount needs you! With this mailing, we are appealing to your civic duty. We need your input on the most

important project the City of Westmount has put forward in its long history: the rebuilding of the Westmount

arena and pool. Council would like to proceed with this project, but only if a majority of taxpayers is behind it.

It is your money, after all, that will help pay for it.

I shall not pretend that the history of this rebuilding project so far has been a smooth one. Mind you, nor was the

struggle to restore and expand the Westmount Library in the 1990s, but it was a project most citizens became

very proud of. Your Council feels this same success can be repeated with the arena/pool project. But only if it is a

rallying point and not a focus of division and rancour.

There were two separate designs suggested for the arena/pool project by the previous Council during 2009. A

great deal of work went into these proposals, but they received mixed reviews in a series of public meetings. The

whole of Westmount, however, was never canvassed.

The new Council, since its election in November 2009, has been working on ways to address the objections

raised by citizens to the prior proposals. Objectors fell into two broad camps: people in the neighbourhood saw

the new arena as a massive intrusion, a wall 30 feet high by 500 feet long from St Catherine Street to de

Maisonneuve, jutting into Westmount Park; meanwhile, the pool itself ate up precious green space. For the rest

of Westmount, concerns had more to do with the cost: do we really need to go from one-and-one-half to two

rinks? Why can’t we just fix up the existing arena? Others felt we needed an indoor pool more than a replication

of our current sports mix.

The cost concerns were substantially mitigated by the crowning achievement of my predecessor Mayor Karin

Marks: she managed, by dint of incredible perseverance - and the help of Jacques Chagnon, our local MNA - to

get $20 million of infrastructure grants for the project. It is Canada’s and Quebec’s contribution that allows us

to build a $37 million arena/pool complex that will cost Westmounters $17 million. In fact, the cost to taxpayers

will probably be closer to $12 million, thanks to contributions from Westmount schools, foundations, and private

donors. This cost translates into an additional $200 a year in taxes for the average single-family dwelling.

What about the neighbours and the sheer bulk of the arena? Well, if we had to describe the essence of our city,

we would surely be torn between invoking Westmount’s unique architectural heritage and Westmount’s prized

greenspace. This Council wants a project that respects both. We want the park to win the battle between it and

the arena. We do not wish to plunk a massive piece of architecture down in an established greenspace.

So we have gone underground. Council’s plan is to bury the ice rinks, putting tennis courts and grass on top of

them - creating the ultimate green roof. Skylights will bring in natural light. Only the entrance pavilion and

Teen Centre will be above-ground.


more pics and full desc. http://www.westmount.org/pdf_files/ArenaPool_Proposal.pdf

Edited by GDS
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Westmount underground hockey rinks getting thumbs-up

Sun, 2010-05-09 09:28.


Mayor says letter poll suggests 83% like it


If all goes as planned, Westmount's new arena will include two NHL-sized rinks - in the unlikeliest of places.


"The people around the arena were not very happy about seeing a great, big behemoth go up there," says Westmount mayor Peter Trent.


So when someone mentioned at a public meeting about building the rinks underground instead, a lightbulb went off in his head.


"Rather than putting a green roof on top of the building, we're actually sticking the entire building underground and the ceiling, or the roof, becomes greenspace," Trent tells CJAD News.


And he insists it wouldn't cost more, because building something compatible with Westmount's historic architecture, would.


"You have to do it in brick or stone so then the cost of the architecture becomes very considerable."


So far 2100 Westmounters have responded to the city's letter poll about the plan. About 83% give it the thumbs up.


"That's about a 25% response."


The next step: a public meeting. Trent says he hopes to start construction this fall, with completion in 2012 or 2013.



I guess this can get transferred to Approved. Will this be the world's first underground hockey rink?

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  • 9 months later...



A fierce critic of megacities and megaprojects, Westmount Mayor Peter Trent has found himself on the receiving end of criticism in his defence of the mother of all Montreal suburban megaprojects: Westmount's $37-million arena.


The city's plan to create Montreal Island's first underground rink complex, near the southwest corner of Westmount Park, is the biggest public-works project ever conceived by the metropolitan region's wealthiest municipality.


Last week's decision by the Westmount town council to move forward with the hiring of a project manager by next month would ordinarily suggest that a denouement is imminent -but critics say they will not relent. The Westmount Municipal Association says there had better not be any cost overruns.


At issue is council's plan to replace the existing Westmount municipal arena, built in 1958, with two underground rinks and a parking lot covered by above-ground tennis courts. In addition, a new outdoor pool would be built south of the buried rink complex. The new pool would replace the existing outdoor pool situated north of the existing arena.


The original plan under former mayor Karin Marks had called for new above-ground rinks. But people thought they were too big and ugly, and at odds with the surrounding park setting. So Trent came in after his return to the mayoralty in 2009 and helped create a proposal to bury the rinks and simultaneously create more green space.


Critics aren't impressed, though. They say the mayor's plan is too grandiose, and would increase Westmount's debt by more than 30 per cent.


"It would cost too much money, too much money to build and operate, and there's no need for it," says Larry Klepper, a resident of the immediate area who took out a full-page ad against the project last month in the Westmount Independent newspaper.


Other critics charge that real reason for the project is that Marks had managed to secure $20 million in federal and provincial subsidies and Westmount needed to come up with an expensive project in a hurry or else risk losing the grants. It's an example of a subsidy in research of a project, say critics, as opposed to the other way around.


But Trent says this isn't true. He says council had been talking about replacing the Westmount arena - which really consists of one and a half rinks; a standard hockey rink and adjacent small recreational skating area -since the early 1990s. He says the plan had always been to upgrade the library first, then restore Victoria Hall and the greenhouse, and then get around to doing something about the arena


Trent says Westmount's share of the $37-million price tag is only $17 million and that he hopes $5 million of that will come from fundraising, leaving only $12 million for taxpayers, which he says will mean a $200 increase in annual property taxes for the average homeowner. His hope is that private schools in Westmount will put up $2.5 million in capital costs, and that another $2.5 million will come from other fundraising.


Hal Hannaford, headmaster of Selwyn House School, says he and city officials are talking about a $2-million contribution from Selwyn House that might see the school's hockey program get a number of years of rent-free ice in off-peak late-afternoon hours. The school now spends $45,000 a year on ice rental, he says. The city has also been speaking with St. George's School of Montreal, and Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School as well.


The arena project has been a hot issue since last spring, when the city sent information brochures to every household, outlining the project and asking residents for their opinion. Twenty-seven per cent of 8,100 households responded to the poll supervised by Ipsos Descarie, and of those, 83 per cent said they were in favour of the project.


However, opposition was strong in areas near the arena. Residents are fearful that the combined effect of the arena project and emerging McGill University Health Centre in the Glen Yards will be heavy local traffic congestion.


Local residents won the right to open a municipal register to force a referendum on the arena project. But the day that the city chose for the exercise, last Aug. 17, angered residents who said it should have been held in September, after people had returned from their vacations. Only 114 signatures were collected on the register, well short of the 500 needed to force a referendum.


There was another controversy last fall, after city hall pulled its advertising out of the Westmount Examiner and gave it to the Westmount Independent instead. The Examiner complained, and charged Trent had tried to meddle in its coverage of the arena issue and had pulled out the city's advertising as retribution. But Trent has a different take on events.


"It wasn't until after we moved our advertising that they started to take a negative position on the arena project," he says.


The reason why the city moved its advertising, said the mayor, was simply because the Independent had become a better paper than the Examiner, both in terms of editorial quality and delivery reliability.


Last week, city hall posted a "Status Report" on its website regarding the arena project. it sounded an ominous note: Three months ago, new budget numbers came in too high and so consultants had to be brought in to do new value-engineering studies. Now the city is confident once again that the $37-million estimate is reliable.


Says Trent: "We brought the library project in on time and on budget and I'm going to make sure I bring the arena project in at $37 million.


Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Rinks+plan+sparks+mini+Westmount/4306044/story.html#ixzz1EKmoPQ00

Edited by monctezuma
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  • 2 months later...

A lot of us in Westmount are disgusted at the fact that this project is about to privatize public facilities. Westmount Park already bears the scars of privatization by having a fenced field that's only accessible to private school students most of the year. Totally shameful! And now they're trying the same thing with the Arena/Pool Project:


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  • 3 months later...
The City of Westmount is planning a $37 million rebuild of its arena and pool, but critics say the project is too big, too expensive, and not suitable for Westmount Park.


Daphnee Azoulay is one of those critics who loves the park just the way it is.


"To construct an arena in a park like this with cars coming a lot, pollution -- for me, it makes no sense," said Azoulay.


Patrick Barnard also thinks the plan is excessive.


"We are for a new arena, but we are against a project that is extravagant, over the top, wasteful and irresponsible. As the project stands now, it's a gross waste of public money," he said.


However Mayor Peter Trent says opponents are failing to see the expansion of greenspace.


With an outdoor pool and two underground NHL-size hockey rinks, Trent says the grassy areas of the park will be expanded.


"This does two things: first of all it means that the park doesn't have a great big building in it, but it also means we can liberate about an acre of greenspace by putting the rinks underground," said Trent.


Westmount is receiving $20 million in grants from the federal and provincial governments for the project.


It also sent out a survey last spring to gauge public opinion, and the proposal came back with an overwhelming 83 percent public support.


Critic Nina Safdie says the actual turnout was rather low.


"Peter Trent keeps saying, "Well, we had a vote! We had a vote! We had a vote! Only 27 or 28 percent of the whole population voted -- that's out of 20,000 people," said Safdie.


For his part, Trent says the opposition is coming too late.


"We had our approval 15 months ago. Now a few people are saying they have a petition and that we should stop the project or reduce the project because of their petition, but that's 15 months late," Trent said.


The city plans to put out a call for tenders next year.


(Courtesy of CTV Montreal)

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  • 3 months later...
The petition, which opposes the proposed Westmount Recreation Centre plans in their current form, has been circulating throughout the community and beyond for the better part of 2011 in both paper and online forms.

According to de Maisonneuve boul. resident Gotham Hooja, one of the petition's primary organizers, the milestone was reached in Westmount Park on Saturday, Nov. 5, when Sherbrooke Street residents Edward and Rachelle Keyserlingk added the 2,000th and 2,001st signatures.


To mark the occasion, Save the Park member Patrick Barnard presented the Keyserlingks with a copy of the book The End of Nature by Bill McKibben.

The credibility of "Change Westmount Arena Plan" petition has been challenged on several occasions by City officials and the media - The Examiner included - for its inclusion of anonymous signatories and of non-Westmount residents.

Hooja defended that criticism last week during a meeting at The Examiner office, pointing out that the anonymous signatories are "Westmount residents who prefer to remain anonymous on a public Internet site, but they have Westmount addresses" that were verified by petition organizers.


He also pointed out that while more than 86 percent of the signers live in Westmount, non-resident were also allowed to sign because $20 million of the budgeted $37-million project is coming from federal and provincial government grants.

"As one observer puts it, council forfeited Westmount's independence when it accepted more than 50 percent of the funding from taxpayers outside of Westmount," Hooja said. "Non-Westmount residents certainly have the right to take a position, as any of us do, for the use of taxpayers' money by the provincial and federal governments. We all have the right to insist on value for money."



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