The candidates for mayor of Projet Montréal in five boroughs of the East End of Montréal are committed to improving access to recreation for all Montréal families residing in their territory. If successful, Pierre Lessard-Blais (Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve), Laurence Lavigne Lalonde (Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension), Will Prosper (Montréal-Nord), Kettly Beauregard (Anjou) and Nerlande Gaetan (Saint-Léonard) and their team of councillors will help make recreation more affordable and accessible.
They will do this by expanding the Accès-Loisirs program, which allows low-income citizens to register for free recreational activities in their neighbourhood. In addition to taking over the resources and supervision of the program, the boroughs concerned will compensate the organizations that have signed the agreement and will continue their funding. This means that every dollar saved by program beneficiaries, and therefore not paid to service providers, will be offset.
Several improvements will be made to the program:
- Often considered too restrictive, eligibility criteria will be simplified and expanded. As soon as a family receives the solidarity tax credit, it will be eligible for free assistance.
- Registration, which is currently done on a fixed date only a few times a year and in one location per neighbourhood, will now be done at all times in several partner organizations, as well as in Accès-Montréal offices.
- We are never safe from an economic crisis or a pandemic: all too often, recreation is the first expense to be cut, at the expense of the young and old who benefit from it and of community organizations that lose their funding. To ensure affordable access to recreation as well as stable and adequate funding for organizations, participating boroughs are committed to establishing a dedicated fund to prepare for any eventuality and to keep their commitment.
"When a family's financial situation is precarious or difficult, recreation is often the first thing they cut. But recreation is not an unnecessary expense. It allows young people to move and have fun, to make contact with others, and even to build confidence. For older people, recreation allows them to remain active, both physically and cognitively, and helps break the isolation. In short, it contributes to overall well-being, and that's not trivial," said Pierre Lessard-Blais, outgoing mayor of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve (MHM).
"It is unfair, and even unacceptable, that not everyone has access to recreation. The limited financial capacity of some families should not be a barrier to the practice of sports and cultural activities. In the borough, there are inequalities that unfortunately persist, since no one has tackled them. Well, I intend to do so," said Laurence Lavigne Lalonde, candidate for mayor of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension (VSMPE).
"North Montrealers definitely need easier access to sports equipment. It would help young athletes to pursue their passion while staying in their neighbourhood. Lugentz Dort and Chris Boucher, for example, are two Montréal-Nord athletes applauded for their talent and success, but they were forced to train outside of Montréal-Nord during their youth. It would definitely help young people reach their full potential in the heart of their neighbourhood," said Will Prosper, candidate for Mayor of Montréal-Nord.