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Beloved Verdun natatorium slated to be demolished

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The natatorium pavilion in Verdun has been closed for renovations since 2017 and now the 86-year-old-building will likely be torn down.

Growing up, Wendy Duncan spent her summers swimming at the Verdun natatorium.

"You might come for a couple of hours and end up staying the whole day, and at the end of it you'd be ravenous, and then you'd go upstairs to the rooftop where there was a small snack bar and you could pick up potato chips, five cents a bag," said the LaSalle resident.

The natatorium was inaugurated in July 1940. It was the first outdoor pool in Montreal and the largest in Canada at the time.

"Everyone came to the natatorium if you wanted to swim … this was the spot. This was the big pool," she said.

The pool is still open in the summer months but its art deco pavilion is closed. Verdun's former mayor says his sources tell him the building is set to be torn down.

The city is expected to make an official announcement during a public meeting at city hall Tuesday.

"I was really surprised and I said no, no, no it's not possible," said Jean-François Parenteau, Verdun's former mayor.

Parenteau isn't the only person opposed to the project.

"That's totally insane. This is part of the history of Montreal in particular for Verdun," said Yasmine Amraoui.

"It would be a loss not just to this community but to a lot of other communities, too," Duncan added.

The building, with change rooms and showers inside, has been closed for renovations since 2017.

Work on the building stopped the same year when major structural problems were found.

Parenteau says elected officials can stop the demolition.

"They asked me to demolish this building and I said no. They stopped the project for seven years," he said.

Heritage Montreal says given its age degradation of concrete is an issue and is urging officials with the City of Montreal to get involved.

"There have been examples where they found ways to repair it without damaging the heritage value in some other places they had to to reproduce it. So these are different strategies," said Dinu Bumbaru, Heritage Montreal's policy director and spokesperson.

The City of Montreal did not reply to a request for comment by publication time.

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