Beis defends city pool decision

By Rhonda Massad

Montreal executive committee member Jim Beis told The Suburban that this summer’s FINA World Masters aquatic championship will generate $119 million in revenue for the city—money that Montreal can’t afford to lose by holding some of the events at the Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre.

As reported in The Suburban, West Islanders will instead have to pay $500,000 of the $2.7 million dollar that the agglomeration council voted to pay to place a portable pool instead at Park Jean Drapeau for the upcoming competition in July.

“If we wanted to have an event of this calibre and attract that many people with a spinoff of over $100 million that will benefit not only Montreal, but all levels of government, the decision had to be taken to purchase a temporary pool,” Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Beis told The Suburban.

Beis blamed the meet’s organizers, whom he said were chary after a similar 2005 competition in Montreal suffered a loss of $5 million.

Beis estimated the cost of the portable pool at about $1 million, with the rest of the budget going to installation and extras such as bleachers where the spectators will sit.

What will West Islanders get?

“Benefits will come from people spending money but also from taxes paid directly to each level of government,” Beis explained. He said that the federal government will receive more than $4 million, provincial over $6 million and the municipal almost $5 million.

He said that Montreal pitched the Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre, the Claude Robillard sports complex and the CEPSUM sport centre as potential venues.

Beis added that in, Dec. 2013, Aquatic Federation of Canada president Lisa Schott wrote to Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre in December 2013, refusing to consider CEPSUM and Claude Robillard because they didn’t meet the specifications for the competition. She confirmed that the Pointe Claire facilities were suitable, but deemed it too far for participants to travel to.

The distance from Parc Jean Drapeau to the Olympic Stadium is 10.5 km. The Pointe Claire Aquatic Centre it is 30 km away.

Beis said that when it became clear that renovations to the Olympic basin would preclude holding the meet there, the organizers insisted that the competition be centralized.

Pointe Claire Mayor Morris Trudeau told The Suburban that at least some of the events could easily be held in Pointe Claire, permitting West Islanders to benefit from some of the projected $100 million influx.

According to Beis, once the competition wraps up any municipality on the island that fits criteria outlined by the city of Montreal will be permitted to bid to have the portable pool installed in their city.

That will be the only potential direct benefit to West Islanders for the more than $500,000 in taxes that they have contributed to the FINA championships.

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