By Emily Innes

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The City of Dorval, which is located 20 kilometres from downtown Montreal, is home to an international airport, a lake, a marina, and now, a $20-million aquatic and sports complex.

In 2011, Mayor Edgar Rouleau announced that the city would build the Dorval Aquatic and Sports Complex and on Aug. 31, the doors of the facility were officially opened to the public.

The 45,000-square-metre building features a recreational swimming pool, an eight-lane lap pool, a gymnasium, and a multi-purpose room. The gymnasium is used for open activities including badminton, basketball, futsal (indoor soccer), and volleyball. The multi-purpose room is used for fitness and wellness courses such as boot camps, cardio combat, kung fu, pilates, zumba for adults and children, and martial arts for children.

“Everybody was very happy (at the opening),” said Mayor Rouleau. “Even if they knew (about the building, we have been) putting photographs on our website and people were seeing the building going up, they still did not expect (its grandness) when they walked in. They were really amazed and happy, and now they are using it.”

Since the seasonal closing of the city’s three outdoor pools, the mayor said the facility is getting a lot of traffic. On a recent drive past the complex at around 9:30 p.m. he said there were still about 30 cars in the parking lot.

Extensive consultation period

The town went through a lengthy consultation period with many residents, sports groups, and activity groups to determine what the community needed. The mayor said they were able to meet most of the groups’ requirements, however, he added that “sometimes we could not give (the groups what they wanted) because we would have had to come up with $30 million and we wanted to stay under the $20-million range because we knew we could afford that.”

The Government of Quebec subsidized $5 million and the rest of the $15 million came from funds set aside for the project. Mayor Rouleau noted that they did not have to borrow any money for the project. “It is all paid for.”

On top of the consultation period, the administration and town council members went to visit at least five other cities’ sports complexes to generate ideas for their facility. The mayor said they wanted to be informed about successful projects and what they would do differently, noting, “you always improve on what has been done.”

The City of Dorval has experienced a recent rejuvenation in its population — now at about 20,000 people — and so this has meant an increase in families, with more children and babies. As a result, there was a demand for an indoor pool and a gymnasium, said the mayor.

And, Mayor Rouleau has a good understanding of what the City of Dorval needs. He has presided over council for the past 10 years and prior to that he was a councillor for 22 years.

International airport serves 15 million annually

The mayor takes pride in his city and stated that Dorval’s main attractions include its proximity to downtown Montreal, its numerous green spaces, many of which are located near the waterfront of Lake St. Louis, the Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage, the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club, and the fact that it is a hub for travelers at the Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

The airport, which represents a third of the city’s land, is a key provider of jobs for Dorval.  It serves about 15 million passengers annually and it is open 24 hours a day. A feature of Dorval is that it has a very high ratio of jobs compared to the population. The town has about 40,000 jobs, said Mayor Rouleau.

A perk for businesses setting up in Dorval is that the population is skilled and educated, and they are well-connected with their neighbouring cities. Dorval borders numerous communities including Pointe-Claire, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, St.-Laurent, and Lachine.

“Let’s say (a business is) interested in Dorval . . . we contact (them) and we start looking for the space that (they) need, but if we do not have the space in Dorval, but there is some in our neighbouring city, we will transfer (them) right away. We are so close and whether (they set up) in Point-Claire or Dorval it does not matter and it is going to be good for everybody,” said Mayor Rouleau.

Lack of effective transportation, according to Mayor Rouleau, is the city’s biggest inconvenience and can be a deterrent for some companies to move to Dorval. He said the trains run infrequently, but the city is pushing the federal government for funding to improve their public transportation system.

Creating a Sustainability Master Plan

Another big project the city completed this year was updating their old urban master plan with a focus on sustainability. In 2011, the city initiated the process to elaborate on its 20-year master plan and council adopted the “Sustainable Master Plan” in June. 

“The Sustainable Master Plan will integrate the fundamental principles of sustainable development. In order to execute this process, the participation of citizens of Dorval is critical, specifically to participate in large numbers throughout the entire elaboration of this important community project,” stated a City of Dorval 2011 press release.

To encourage citizen engagement, council created and updated the “Plan Dorval” blog and the community was invited to attend council meetings. Mayor Rouleau said the new plan should not greatly impact citizens because “as (the city is) pretty much built, (the plan) was more to make sure that everything is preserved.”

Future projects in Dorval

Along with trying to improve public transport, the city is trying to get the government to complete the Dorval Circle — an interchange under development to improve getting from Highway 20 to the Montreal-Trudeau Airport. The project was intended to be completed by 2013, said Mayor Rouleau, but construction has halted and restarted numerous times. The timeline for completion has now been set for 2019.

The city also wants to create more cultural activities, increase the use of the Dorval-Jean-XXII high school auditorium that underwent a $150,000 renovation in 2013, and build a new soccer turf. “The rest is trying to keep the taxes low and keep people happy,” said the mayor.