The CDN-NDG borough is planning to sell the old Snowdon Theatre, and the gymnastics club that has been operating out of it for more than 20 years may have to look elsewhere for space.
“After being in the community for this long, you question how this could happen,” said Julie Durocher, director at the Flex-Art gymnastics club.
Though the club has not received an official eviction notice and the borough has voiced its intentions of helping the club as much as possible, Durocher said she cannot imagine a situation in which Flex-Art will be using the theatre for much longer.
In an email to Les Actualités, the chief of communications for the borough Michel Therrien confirmed that the club has not received an eviction notice, but that it has been warned about the possibility of relocating.
“They have received letters in which it is stated that the dilapidated state of the Snowdon Theatre is a concern, that there are plans to sell the building, and that if work needs to be done, they will have to cease operations,” he said.
Durocher, who has been with the club since 1986, says it has received minimal help from the borough in terms of finding a new space, which is becoming increasingly difficult.
Flex-Art currently doesn’t pay rent at the theatre, as it belongs to the borough, the same situation as every other gymnastics club in the City of Montreal, according to Durocher. Finding a place on their own where they would have to pay high rent could potentially kill the business altogether.
“If I now have to pay for a space, I have to charge double or triple for the same service that another club would be offering,” she said.
The club is currently training close to 400 gymnasts and cheerleaders aged 4 to 18. Many of them have been practicing and training there for multiple years.
“I don’t really have a solution for the kids,” said Durocher.
“A lot of these girls, they probably wouldn’t be doing any kind of sports if it wasn’t for this, and they could lose that now. 400 kids is not a negligible amount,” she added.
According to Adam Brown, who has been coaching with Flex-Art for nine years, the club has become something of a second home for many of the kids involved.
“Some of these kids are here between 10 and 15 hours a week. It’s a big part of their lives,” said Brown. “It’s a little community and family for us.”
The Snowdon Theatre originally opened in 1936, was closed in 1982, and repurposed for retail in 1990, the same year the Flex-Art gymnastics club moved in.
The borough and the club were scheduled to meet on March 18 to try and figure out the best solution for both sides.
“I would at least like a letter stating that they will keep us here until something suitable is found,” added Durocher.
Photo: Jesse Feith