Canada’s second most populous city, Montreal has been declared a basketball city by its own city council.
It is important to note that the city has a team in the national league, thousands of fans and three homegrown players in the NBA.
In a swift reaction, Sacha-Wilky Merazil, a community activist who is pushing to develop basketball facilities in Montréal-Nord, said declaring Montreal a basketball city is a good first step, but conscious efforts must be made to invest in the community and ensure local kids have the resources they need to develop as athletes.
Merazil said “We have a lack of sports facilities in Montréal-Nord, and particularly in Montreal East. We need funding to build a sports centre.”
Reports have it that such a project has been discussed for some time, and still no concrete plans have been made at the municipal level.
It was gathered that Montréal-Nord residents spoke out earlier this year after the promised sports and recreation centre was placed on the back burner indefinitely, left out of the city’s budget.
While noting that east-end neighbourhoods need a master plan for developing sports facilities, Merazil said “A lot of citizens in east end Montreal feel really abandoned”.
Announcing the development, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante in Twitter post said the municipal council unanimously adopted the motion to recognize the importance of basketball in the city.
She said “More than ever, Montreal is seen as a basketball city, and that’s great news”.
She added that “Let’s be proud of it!”
Marikym Gaudreault, a spokesperson for the mayor, said Basketball continues to grow in popularity around the world and Montreal is no exception.
She said “Its accessibility and inclusiveness make it a sport of choice and the city is proud to support a number of initiatives in this regard”.
The motion was aimed at highlighting the positive impact of “this sport on the community and the vibrant projects that emerge from it.”
Dwight Walton, a former Canadian National Team member and basketball commentator said there is a groundswell of support for an NBA team to come to Montreal, adding that it’s time to put politics aside and make basketball a success in the city.
He said “Basketball is on the rise and Montreal deserves an NBA franchise”.
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