Martin C. Barry
A year after the City of Laval`s decision to postpone construction of a new aquatic complex, the city’s unofficial but largest opposition group is denouncing the administration of Mayor Marc Demers for being without a coherent plan for the facility, even though Laval will be hosting part of the Jeux du Québec next year.
Calling the situation a “financial fiasco,” Action Laval councillors and supporters held a press conference last week to underscore the reality that the complex, initially slated to be built on Terry Fox Ave. near the Cosmodôme, will almost certainly not be built in time to host the 2020 Jeux du Québec. Instead, the City of Laval will be leasing space at the City of Saint-Eustache’s aquatic complex.
While the City of Laval did some initial planning and had the concrete foundations for a future aquatics complex poured into place in advance for $10 million, the foundations had to be specially protected against the winter elements, while contract bids that were received by the city came in too high and were rejected.
While the former administration of Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt had estimated it would be a $36 million project, the Demers administration re-evaluated its cost as being closer to $61 million. However, when the first contractor bids came in, they were all for more than $80 million.
“Field of Dreams was a 1989 film in which a farmer heard a voice telling him, ‘If you build it he will come,’ said Action Laval councillor for Saint-Bruno David De Cotis. “The aquatic complex is not the Field of Dreams. Marc Demers should stop dreaming and face reality and get into action and solution mode.”
Examples of other projects
The Action Laval research team found aquatic complexes – one completed in Brossard, another in Mascouche – that according to the party were built for $39 million and $14 million respectively.
“The City of Laval can easily build an aquatic complex like the one in Brossard and save $40 million,” De Cotis maintained. “How can we trust this administration which does not respect established parameters and that throws away taxpayers’ money through the windows as if it was Monopoly money.”
De Cotis went on to say that “the bad management of public funds which we are seeing more and more often was one of the reasons I left the administration of Marc Demers.” He said the city should re-start the aquatic complex project over from scratch, bulldozing the foundations despite their $10 million cost.
Start over, says De Cotis
“The City of Laval, instead of having a $10 million cement hole, should start from zero, cut their losses, take the bulldozer, remove the foundation and build a brand new aquatic centre for $60 million,” added De Cotis, insisting that such a centre would meet residents’ requirements.
De Cotis said the situation is “embarrassing” for the City of Laval. “We’re hosting the Quebec Laval Games in 2020, and instead of having those games in Laval we have them in Saint Eustache,” he said. “This is very embarrassing for us all.”
Action Laval city councillor for Chomedey Aglaia Revelakis agrees it’s not appropriate for the Laval to be hosting something like the Jeux du Québec while using an athletic facility in a neighbouring municipality. “In other words, we’re hosting but we’re not hosting the games,” she said.
“This is an embarrassment to a city that is the third-largest in Quebec and for all its citizens,” she added. “Yes, we got the games, but in the end we’re not even hosting them properly because we were not able to build the aquatic centre as scheduled.”