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St-Leonard, City of Montreal butt heads over keeping soccer stadium open in winter

The City of Montreal and Saint-Leonard are butting heads over a well-loved soccer stadium after the borough has said it has to close the facility for the winter because it can't afford to keep it open.

The Hébert Soccer Stadium, is in Parc Herbert, just south of Highway 40, and the problem is the dome. For the past decade, the borough has paid to put a large white dome over the field to protect players from getting snowed out.

But this year, it says, costs have ballooned by 60 per cent, from $290,000 last year to $464,000 this year -- a 60 per cent increase.

"I sympathize with the parents, and I sympathize with the kids," said Saint-Léonard-Ouest City Councillor Dominic Perri. "We have absorbed all the expenses for the past 10 years plus, but this year, the increase is huge for our small borough."

"Unless the City of Montreal comes to help us, it cannot be put up again," added Perri. "We cannot afford it."

There was an outcry from people who used the field after the announcement.

"It is not acceptable to leave 700 kids without a place to play soccer this winter," said Sam Macri, treasurer of the Saint-Léonard Soccer Association.

He said the news was especially unwelcome since the club has to start winter sign-ups. He's already taken the story to city council during their meeting earlier this week, and held a small demonstration outside city hall, accompanied by staff and young players.

"If we don't get an answer, we will continue to protest until we get our dome," he told CTV News.

Residents say the dome is imperative to the life of the sport during the winter, not just for youth in Saint-Leonard but for players all over Montreal's east end.

"Soccer is life here," said player Richard Dupuis in an interview. "Especially during the wintertime, to play with that dome, that was like a godsend."

"This is tradition here, money is nothing [compared to that]," he said. "We need to keep that alive."


CTV News contacted Montreal's executive committee to respond to the borough's request. Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles Mayor Caroline Bourgeois is in charge of sports and recreation for the city.

She said that the committee is willing to work with the borough to find a more permanent solution, like a year-round indoor field, but that it wasn't given enough time to organize funds for this winter.

"We cannot work like that. We cannot," she said.

"[Imagine] all the boroughs of Montreal, saying, 'Oh no, I don't have any money, and I will stop some activities for kids and teens, and I will ask for money from the City of Montreal, and I hope they will do that in a few weeks.' It doesn't work like that," she said.

Both Perri and Bourgeois told CTV News the city and borough are still in talks about the field. Top Stories

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