Habs Foundation behind initiative
by John Symon
Tuesday afternoon saw Montreal elected officials, Montreal Canadiens hockey players, school children, and Canadiens mascot, Youppi gather for the inauguration of the new Bleu, Blanc, Bouge (BBB) skating rink in NDG’s Confederation Park adjacent to Doug Harvey Arena. The new rink is special because it is refrigerated, providing a good ice surface almost no matter what the winter weather. The $2 million project was funded by both the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation, and the borough of Cote-des-Neiges / Notre-Dame-de-Grace (CDN / NDG). The Foundation has helped realize similar rinks in St. Michel, Montreal North, Verdun and LaSalle.
Among those speaking on the new ice was Montreal’s new mayor, Michael Applebaum, an NDG resident. Applebaum related how, in 1994, he heard that elected officials would be closing a local skating rink. “That is when I decided to run as a candidate that year to try and keep the rink open.” Applebaum also admitted that this rink comes with a hefty price tag and that the city cannot afford to open any more similar rinks at this time.
Both Applebaum and local borough mayor, Lionel Perez, spoke about the importance of encouraging healthy habits among their citizens, and infrastructure like skating rinks helps to do just that. Perez, wearing a Canadiens jersey for the occasion, promised The Times that he would be back often to skate on this new rink.
“We are extremely proud of the effect the five BBB rinks have had in various neighbourhoods of Montreal,” said Geoff Molson, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens. He was joined by two local high school students, Emilie and Frank who thanked the Foundation, its partners, and the borough for helping to realize such a beautiful skating rink.
Former Canadiens player, Sergio Momesso, who grew up skating on NDG rinks, spoke about the importance of encouraging youths to get outside and get away from computers.
The new rink measures 200 by 85 feet (61 by 26m), the same size as the Bell Centre rink. For the remainder of the 2013 season, it will be open until the end of March. For upcoming winters, the rink is scheduled to be open November through March. This inauguration comes on the heels of an article in Le Devoir predicting the end of (unrefrigerated) outdoor skating rinks in southern Canada as a result of climate change. That article quotes Concordia University geography professor, Damon Matthews.
“It was a pleasure to skate with local children at the rink with (ex) members of the Habs! It is great that the rink will serve St-Luc High School and other local schools,” said Peter McQueen (councillor, NDG), the only public official we saw there on skates. McQueen did not waste the opportunity to poke fun at his CDN / NDG colleagues for not supporting one of his pet projects. “Of course we need to encourage healthy habits for kids like safe cycling by building the bike paths we need, such as the one behind Vendome metro and over Decarie Blvd.”
The BBB rink is open for school groups on weekdays 9 am–4 pm; for family free skating Saturday & Sunday 9 am–12 noon. Family hockey is scheduled Saturdays & Sundays 12 noon– 4 pm. There is also a free skate for all Monday thru Friday 11:30 am –1 pm and 6–8 pm Saturday & Sunday 5:30–9 pm. The adjacent Doug Harvey (indoor) Arena is located at 4985 Westhill Ave. For more information, call 311 or visit www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/cdn-ndg