In 2014, the city of Montreal closed the public pool behind the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH). Three summers later, mayoral candidate Valerie Plante committed to revamping the old pool and opening it up again within the next year, should she be elected.
“With this project, we have the opportunity to offer the downtown population a new green space on Mount Royal, as well as a public swimming pool, arguably the most beautiful on the island of Montreal," Plante said while campaigning on Oct. 4. “We’ve already promised to green the mountain by planting trees, and this morning we are pledging to make it more of a family environment."
Though many rumours circulated as to why the pool closed in 2014—including after the death of a 67 year-old man—there is no known single reason. The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) insists that alcohol and drug use were not the reasons for it shutting down. Instead, they cite a lack of resources to continue operating it, especially since the hospital was set to relocate. They were also concerned about crowds that occasionally broke in after-hours. After the pool’s closure to the public, McGill announced that it intended to use the pool for both academic and community purposes, but the area was instead left completely vacant.
Initially, the pool was built at the MUHC for patient physiotherapy and rehabilitation. In 2004, however, the Centre opened it to the public. However, as it quickly gained popularity among locals and tourists alike, security at the hospital could no longer handle the people who visited RVH purely for the pool. Despite the lack of proper regulations and funding, the decision to close the pool still came as a disappointment to many.
In the event that the pool reopens next year it would likely be built in the currently unused parking lot on the Pins avenue side of the hospital, near McTavish street. Rather than catering solely to crowds who enjoy unruly alcohol-filled parties, Plante hopes this pool will be more family oriented. Projet Montreal has also proposed installing a public park in the area, also contingent upon Plante winning the election.
Given its location on Mount Royal—one of the most iconic spots in Montreal—the pool is likely to attract lots of tourists once again. However, this time its purpose is strictly entertainment for the public, meaning the administrating and regulating of the pool will reign in control; the fun during crazy summer days is highly unlikely to be broken by mishaps or accidents.
To Stefanie Weighell, U0 Arts, revamping the old pool sounds like a swell idea.
"I think [installing a pool] would be a very good thing to have for the city [to do], considering there's not many pools around,” Weighell said. “However, I wouldn't vote solely for a candidate just for that, because politicians make a lot of promises and you never know if they're true. So, while I am excited that that could be a possibility, it just almost seems too good to be true."
The final decision on whether or not the plans will come to fruition will be made after the elections, which occur on Nov. 5. Until then, here’s to making it through the winter.