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August 22, 2006

Report calls for a return to drawing board for Alouettes’ stadium plans

MONTREAL

Despite a report from the Office de consultation publique de Montreal calling for the Montreal Alouettes football club to go back to the drawing board for its plans to expand McGill University’s Percival Molson Stadium, the City of Montreal believes a solution is possible to allow for the $27 million expansion plan.

The current plan call for an expansion of the stadium’s capacity by 5,000 seats to 25,000 and a change to the location of the entrances.

The stadium is located within the protected heritage zone of Mount Royal.

“We will take all the necessary measures to ensure the expansion of the stadium,” said Francine Senecal, vice chair of the executive committee, who is also responsible for sports and recreation.

“We’ll take into account the collective interests and we also want to ensure the expansion is being done in harmony with the protection of Mount Royal.

“We are studying recommendations that we can implement immediately to limit the use of the stadium to the Alouettes and the activities of McGill University.”

The Montreal Alouettes are also studying the report.

“We do not have a comment yet,” said Louis-Philippe Dorais, the team’s director of communications.

“Our goal is to start construction at the end of 2006/start of 2007 and to have everything ready for the start of the 2007 season in June,” said Dorais in an interview last spring.

“It’s a program that we must complete as an organization. In the CFL, stadiums have between 30,000 and 60,000 seats. We have a 20,000-seat facility and for us, it would not be possible to survive another five years.

“We absolutely need this for our long-term survival.”

The report, released on Aug. 18, reviewed the draft by-law for the expansion of the stadium, following public hearings held last spring.

The majority of residents who spoke at the hearings expressed opposition to the project based on concerns that current problems associated with the stadium will only worsen and that a for-profit sports venue should not be located on historic Mount Royal, which also serves as a nature preserve.

In its report, the commission stated:

• Based on the city’s urban plan and policies, particularly the integrity of Mount Royal, Montreal could refuse to approve the expansion plan.

• Should the city approve the expansion plan, the Alouettes, McGill University and the municipality must consider the objections raised by residents and publicly state their plan of action to address those issues prior to the introduction of an amendment to the draft by-law.

The commission also stated that in order to minimize the impact of any development on Mount Royal, the draft by-law be revised to ensure a continuous year-round landscape screen be established and a large and healthy forested area be established on the entire portion of McGill’s campus adjoining Mount Royal.

Regarding the proposed giant screen to be placed at the eastern end of the stadium, the report calls for a less invasive solution be found to decrease its impact on the surrounding environment.

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