Heritage landmarks in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce: Centennial Celebrations Tarnished
by a Series of Threatened Closures

MONTREAL, June 4 /CNW Telbec/ - "The 100th anniversary of the merger of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) with the City of Montréal, which is being celebrated today, has been tarnished by the threatened closures of several public institutions in NDG, which may be sold off to real estate developers," declared Louise Harel, leader of the Official opposition at Montréal's City Hall, during a press conference held at the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Community Centre. On this occasion, Mme Harel was joined by concerned citizens from NDG, notably Arlyle Waring, president of the local association of Vision Montréal for the CDN-NDG borough, and David Hanna, president of Vision Montreal urban planning committee.

"On the pretext that a brand new sports-recreation centre will open in Benny Park in 2011, the borough mayor of Côte-des-Neiges - Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Michael Applebaum, now chooses to dilapidate NDG's architectural and community heritage," she added, stressing the importance of preserving these neighbourhood institutions to which NDG residents are voicing strong attachment.

The threat remains real

"Many popular institutions have already closed, including the Fraser-Hickson Library, the Westhill indoor pool and the Benny outdoor pool. If this pattern persists, the residents of the eastern part of NDG soon will lose their neighbourhood services and will be forced to travel by car or bus to distant sports and cultural facilities," noted Arlyle Waring. "Mayor Applebaum could reserve a similar fate for the existing Benny Library, the Snowdon theatre, the NDG Community Centre and Maison de la culture, and the Empress Theatre."

    The following facilities are threatened with closures:

    - Empress Theater : built in 1927, this building is Montreal's only
      Egyptian Revival monument. It should be a cited municipal heritage
      site. It could be sold to private interests for redevelopment.

    - NDG Community Centre and Pool: These installations will be closed in
      August 2010, as to favour his new Benny Centre located 2.5km by street
      from this centre. This monument should be a cited heritage building for
      its interesting contribution to the Art Deco movement in Montréal.

    - NDG Maison de la culture: built in 1912, this is typical of the
      beautiful Baroque Revival monuments of the time. The center will be
      closed in August, even if it should be a cited heritage building.

    - Snowdon Theatre: The City of Montreal under Mayor Doré purchased it and
      transformed it into a rhythmic gymnastics centre with shops on the
      ground floor. Built in 1936 as a cinema, i twill be closed in August

    - Benny Library: By its strategic location, this library offers critical
      services to the numerous immigrant families living nearby as well as to
      those who wish to renew their studies. It will unfortunatly be closed

    Closed installations:

    - Piscine Westhill : Claiming too high costs for renovation, Mayor
      Applebaum decided to simply close the pool without offering an
      alternative to the citizens.

    - Fraser-Hickson Library : Relocated in NDG in 1959 in a beautiful modern
      building recognized by the Conseil du patrimoine Mayor Applebaum
      refused to enact the heritage citation. The library closes its doors in
      2007 after half a century.

    - Piscine Benny : Closed in 2008 by Mayor Applebaum who claimed
      renovation costs would be too high.

"The Snowdon and Empress theatres, the NDG Community Centre and Maison de la culture are recognized as jewels among our heritage buildings, in which previous administrations made major investments. It is essential to preserve such convenient local services, and unacceptable to force people to travel kilometres away to have access to community facilities," commented David Hanna, professor of urban planning and a former president of Heritage Montréal.

"I urge the citizens of NDG to mobilize so as to prevent Mayor Applebaum from quietly adopting the closures of these institutions at the borough council meeting scheduled for Aug. 16," Louise Harel concluded. "These public institutions have been neglected in recent years but form part of our historical heritage in this Montréal district. The dilapidation of our architectural and community heritage must stop. NDG's sense of community identity depends on it."

To obtain more information on these institutions, please click on: www.visionmtl.com.

SOURCE Ville de Montréal - Cabinet de la chef de l'Opposition officielle

For further information: For further information: Marie-Hélène d'Entremont, Press Officer, Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition, Office: (514) 872-2934, Cell.: (514) 247-0446

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Ville de Montréal - Cabinet de la chef de l'Opposition officielle

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