A speed skating oval in Montreal is one step closer to reality
All four of Marie-Andrée Cantin’s children started their speed skating careers in the short-track discipline, skating for clubs in LaSalle and the Southwest boroughs. Eventually, they wanted to try long track.
Short-track speed skating clubs operate out of arenas, but long-track requires a 400-metre oval to train on. There are none in Montreal, so Cantin had to drive her kids to Quebec City every week to practise.
In the time spent waiting for them, she often thought there had to be a better way.
“Why couldn’t we have the same kind of outdoor facility in Montreal for long-track speed skaters? But not just that, because it’s such a gorgeous facility in Quebec City, to be able to, as a parent or as a citizen, to go and skate at night for a couple of hours outdoors?” she said.
So eight years ago, Cantin, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Sainte-Justine hospital, banded together with other parents and community members in the Southwest borough to lobby for a permanent, outdoor, refrigerated 400-metre oval.
As recently as 2018, there were talks of creating a temporary oval in the city, a plan that didn’t pan out. But in November, the city revealed it has set aside $20 million as part of its 10-year capital works program to build a permanent oval. The money is earmarked for 2023-2024.
There are few details about what the city wants to do, including where the structure may be built, but the group Cantin is part of has created a detailed plan.
They want the oval built in one of the parking lots at Angrignon Park, which is steps away from Angrignon Metro, and close to major highways.
The oval, which would have a concrete surface, could be used for inline skating or youth cycling events in the summer.
It would be able to accommodate more than 1,000 skaters a day in the winter, and it would be accessible for those with mobility issues. The oval would mainly be used by the public, and provide a low-cost activity for families in the area and a place for schools to visit as part of a physical activity curriculum.