Pointe-Claire’s Olive-Urquhart Sports Centre will open its doors on May 19 to welcome West Islanders. Here’s a sneak preview of the refurbished former YMCA building.
West Islanders will be able to tour and use their newest recreational facility next week when the Olive-Urquhart Sports Centre opens its doors.
The Centre—housed in the former West Island YMCA building on Brunswick Boulevard—is the result of a partnership struck in 2021 between the City of Pointe-Claire and the Y. That agreement saw the city buy the 20,000-square-foot facility for $9 million from the cash-strapped YMCA.
In March, Pointe-Claire’s council voted to name the centre after Olive Urquhart, the city’s first and only female mayor. “Olive Urquhart was at the cutting edge of things in this city,” Mayor Tim Thomas said in an interview this week with West Island Home & Life. “We named the building after her on International Women’s Day. The location of the building is at the gateway to our industrial park. She was the mover behind the industrial park’s establishment, so the whole thing has a real karma to it.”
Olive Urquhart was Pointe-Claire’s mayor from 1954 to 1956 and from 1958 to 1961, at a time of great expansion in the city. In addition to spawning the industrial park, she was instrumental in the founding of the Lakeshore General Hospital and the Stewart Hall Cultural Centre. She also oversaw the addition of fluoride to the city’s water supply.
YMCA officials say the partnership with the city is a perfect mesh of values. “We always want to stay in the community and to keep the vocation of this building,” said Eric Trudel, vice-president operations of YMCA Quebec. “The problem was maintaining our infrastructure. Our membership had decreased slightly, even before the pandemic. We reviewed our business model and decided we needed this partnership.”
All of the YMCA’s community outreach programs, including those for at-risk youth, will continue, says Nadia Garofalo, director of community initiatives and operations for the West Island YMCA. “There is a synergy with the city,” she said of the merger. “It’s trickled down. We’re already a team.”
Gilles Girouard, Pointe-Claire’s director of culture, sports, leisure and community development, concurs: “We have similar values and a similar mission in addressing our residents’ quality of life,” he said.
From May 19 (at 5 p.m.) to May 31, residents of Pointe-Claire and non-residents can visit the centre and use the facilities, including programs hosted by the Y, Mr. Girouard said. Anyone wanting to use the centre after that can buy a membership. The cost of an annual membership for adult Pointe-Claire residents will be $375 ($525 for non-residents).
The YMCA has been in Pointe-Claire since 1956. When it opened the Brunswick Boulevard location in 1986 after a major fund-raising compaign, the centre boasted state-of-the-art facilities, which are now available in the newly upgraded centre: a cardio room, two weight-training spaces, a double gymnasium, swimming pool, spinning studio with 72 bikes, yoga and group-fitness studios, squash courts, and an indoor running track. One new offering will be a court in the gymnasium for pickleball, a fast-growing activity across North America.
City workers have given the building a cosmetic upgrade in recent weeks, including fresh paint and Pointe-Claire branding signs, says Mr. Girouard. “This will become the integrated support service for athletes, such as those in the canoe-kayak club and the aquatic club,” he said. “The quality of our coaching draws attention. We’ve also added equipment for people with reduced mobility.”
The Y’s Eric Trudel said approximately 55 per cent of YMCA members have returned to their respective Ys in the pandemic’s waning period.
“Repopulating the Y will be a gradual climb,” adds Mr. Girouard. However, he’s confident that there will be a lot of interest in the new Olive-Urquhart Sports Centre.
One question that characterized debate surrounding the purchase of the building last year was whether the city needs more recreation-leisure facilities. Mayor Thomas says it does. “We don’t have enough facilities. The north end of Pointe-Claire was under-served,” he said. “This is right across the street from the future Place Frontenac housing project (expected to add 700 apartment units), and we don’t know how many people will be added in the Cadillac Fairview project. Could we acquire 4,000 residents or more?”
The naming of the building enshrines Mayor Urquhart’s contributions for future generations. First elected in 1951 as a councillor, she moved into the mayoralty in 1954 at a time when it was customary to rotate the position every two years between an anglophone and a francophone. She spent the years 1956 to 1958 as a councillor and was acclaimed as mayor in 1958. In the 10 years that Olive Urquhart was on council, Pointe-Claire’s population grew to 22,000 from 8,500. “Former Mayor Bill McMurchie described Mayor Urquhart as a mentor to him,” Mayor Thomas said, adding that she was also highly bilingual. “She employed him as a city gardener during the mid-1950s. A minor street was named after her. But I think the centre will give her the recognition she deserves.”
The Olive-Urquhart Sports Centre will open at 5 p.m. on May 19. Residents and non-residents can enjoy the facilities (230 Brunswick Blvd., Pointe-Claire) at no cost until May 31.