January 01, 2017 (Montreal, QC) – Track cycling advocates in Quebec are advancing three different proposals to create an indoor velodrome in the province. The three possible locations are in: Bromont, Montreal, and Trois-Rivières. Quebec’s only existing (outdoor) velodrome is in Bromont, but a roof is lacking there; the other two projects would need to be built from scratch and presumably would be more modest than the $56 million velodrome in Milton, Ontario that opened in early 2015. Meanwhile Edmonton plans the launch its new velodrome as part of the Coronation Community Recreation Centre Development in 2020 (read more here).
Bromont track © Michel Guillemette
“There are indeed three different ongoing projects at this time: Bromont, Trois-Rivières and Montreal,” commented FQSC director, Louis Barbeau who showed equal respect for all proposals.
“It is imperative for Quebec to have an indoor velodrome. Having a velodrome in Milton is great, but we can’t expect athletes from Quebec to go there every weekend. We have very talented athletes and we need to ensure they are able to pursue their career while still attending school in Quebec. (Milton is about 7 hours west of Montreal)
Mattamy Velodrome © Peter Kraiker
“We are confident that the Quebec government will support one of these projects. We don’t know yet what would that level of support be, and which criteria will prevail in their evaluation. But prior to that, it is crucial to obtain the support (financial, land, tax free …) of the municipality,” continued Barbeau.
Artists rendering of the indoor velodrome at Edmonton's Coronation Park © City of Edmonton
“There are advantages and unique characteristics for each project. Montreal is obviously the one with the largest population, Trois-Rivières is linked with a University, and Bromont is attached to a National training center and already has the support of the municipality.
“Our goal at this time is to assist each project, to help them reach a point where it will become almost a reality. There have been several projects in the past, some very serious, but none of them reached that step. Therefore, we are not in a position at this time where we can pick one project over the other.
“At the end of the day, we need an indoor velodrome and we will be very happy once one of these projects comes to fruition,” Barbeau explained.
Artist's conception of the Bromont Velodrome after addition of a roof. © CNCB
Pedal spoke to Nicolas Legault, director of the Centre National de Cyclisme de Bromont, home of the Bromont velodrome, about how plans are progressing. The 250m oval there previously served for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta before being moved to Bromont in 2000. Legault does not yet have architectural diagrams but does have an advanced concept plan. He points out that this project – at about 75,000 square feet – is more modest than the 154,000 sq ft Milton velodrome.
Bromont track © Michel Guillemette
“We are looking at making a regional training centre that could also host national events,” he commented. “We have a board of 12 people overseeing the project and will soon hire a project manager. An independent study conservatively estimated at 10,000 the annual number of velodrome users in Bromont.”
Bromont Velodrome ©
In 2015, his group submitted a $4.8 million dollar proposal to a provincial funding agency, but Legault says that the numbers could be altered now. In a “best case scenario,” the Bromont indoor velodrome could be operational by 2018 – read more here
Alphonse Desjardins Sporting Complex ©
The Trois-Rivières project is being led by Michel Jean who estimates the cost could be kept under $12 million for a 250m oval. This location is midway between Quebec’s two largest cities, Montreal and Quebec City. The Trois-Rivières proposal also has the support of businessman and 1984 Olympian, Louis Garneau as well as 2016 Olympian, Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale).
Hockey rink at Alphonse Desjardins Sporting Complex ©
The existing Alphonse Desjardins Sporting Complex (CSAD) is the chosen location for the Trois-Rivières velodrome proposal. Because there is already a sporting complex here, this would save on the need for a separate administrative building. The middle of the oval would presumably be used for deck hockey, which is very popular in the surrounding Mauricie region, and allow costs to be shared between the two sports. Jean emphasizes the importance of the CSAD’s association with a nearby school offering a sport étude (sport studies) program with a focus on cycling.
Gymnastics at Rink at Alphonse Desjardins Sporting Complex ©
“I am the father of Emile Jean (Silber Pro). In the last few years, I have met many pro riders who ended their studies to concentrate on cycling. I always found that sad to see young riders without a plan B (for their careers) so here we are trying to do more than create a velodrome. We are also trying to create an educational framework,” Jean explained. Toward this goal, Jean is working with physical education researchers at the local Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières.
Pedal also contacted Fernand Roseboom, one of the proponents of the Montreal proposal and also owner of Cycles Patrick. He argues for proximity. “I think the best place is closer to Montreal, like Laval or Longueuil if it is not on the Island of Montreal because most cyclists in Quebec are around Montreal.” The Montreal proposal is currently less advanced than the Bromont one and still lacks a specific site location as well as local political support.
Montreal's 1976 Olympic velodrome © courtesy of Fernand Roseboom
Montreal's Olympic velodrome (l-r) Eric Fruttero, Phil Berna and Fernand Roseboom circa 1978 © courtesy of Fernand Roseboom
A world-class velodrome was built in Montreal for the 1976 Summer Olympics, hosting both track cycling and judo. But sadly, the facility was closed to sporting activities in 1989, reopening as a zoo (the Biodome) in 1992.
6-Day racing at Toronto's Mutual Arena circa 1933 © Freewheeling
Critics suggest that if track cycling was not viable in the 1980s, it will not be viable today either. But in the 1930s, track racing was much more popular in North America than in Europe according to longtime cycling coach, Erik Van Den Eynde. He points to the 1940s when there were three velodromes in Montreal alone. “Track racing was once as popular (as a spectator sport) as hockey,” said Van Den Eynde in a previous interview.
Pedal will continue to monitor and report on this evolving story.