The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation unveiled its 14th outdoor, refrigerated and multisport ice rink in the heart of Saint-Jerome on Tuesday, as part of its BLEU BLANC BOUGE program. About forty local youths from Dubois Elementary School and Cap-Jeunesse High School took to the ice alongside several former Canadiens players who either grew up or played hockey in the area.
Located in Honorine-Melançon Park, at the intersection of Melançon and du Palais streets, this new BLEU BLANC BOUGE ice rink is distinguished by its use of a new energy efficient refrigeration system powered by CO2, as well as universally accessible facilities for sledge hockey. The City of Saint-Jerome chose to add to the project the construction of a brand-new service pavilion with locker rooms, washrooms, an equipment rental counter, and a parking lot. To extend the ice period and protect the surface from weather conditions, the city will also build a permanent wooden roof over the rink starting next spring.
“We are proud to offer the youth of Saint-Jerome and surrounding areas a new sports facility where they can stay active and engage in their favorite activities throughout the year. Beyond the symbol it represents, a BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink is our Foundation’s solution to increase physical activity levels among youth and improving their health,” said Geoff Molson, owner, president, and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.
“For the past 15 years, our BLEU BLANC BOUGE program has expanded throughout Quebec, making the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation one of the main leaders and changemakers for the health of disadvantaged youth across the province. By providing less privileged communities with better access to safe and quality sports and recreational facilities, we are happy to give all children equal opportunities to discover the importance and joy of being active and growing up healthy,” added Pierre Boivin, chairman of the board of the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
“What a pride to offer our population, especially our youth, such a beautiful facility to enable them to stay active at all seasons of the year and thus promote the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. I thank once again the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation for the realization of such an impactful project for our community,” rejoiced Mayor Marc Bourcier of Saint-Jerome.
As a first-rate partner of the Foundation since 2001, Desjardins Securities has been supporting children in need for over 20 years by financially contributing to projects such as the construction and activation of BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks.
“We take great pride in our partnership with the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and the commitment of our wealth managers to this important cause,” said David Lemieux, vice president and general manager of Desjardins Securities. “By partially waiving their commissions on January 16, our wealth management teams demonstrate their dedication to supporting children in need and their desire to contribute to a better future for all. Ensuring young individuals have access to quality sports facilities year-round is crucial. The projects supported by the Foundation have the potential to improve the quality of life for these youngsters, and that’s what makes us proud to have been partners for over 20 years.”
The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation also relies on the support of businesses who are well-established in the regions where the rinks are located. To improve the future and well-being of youth, Harnois Énergies has chosen to contribute $100,000 to the deployment of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program in Saint-Jerome and Quebec City, where the Foundation’s next rink will be built. “For Harnois Énergies, investing within our communities is part of our values. Sport is synonymous with energy, so it was only natural for us to support such a beautiful project,” said Serge Harnois, CEO of Harnois Énergies. The company had also supported the construction of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks in Joliette and Val-d’Or, inaugurated in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Since 2009, 14 BLEU BLANC BOUGE skating rinks have been built across the province of Quebec. These vibrant and animated facilities provide children from disadvantaged backgrounds with a unique opportunity to gather and discover the many benefits of a healthy and physically active lifestyle. To ensure the success of its program, the Foundation is supported by M361, which assists in selecting the communities in which to implement the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program, as well as identifying community partners to collaborate with in order to develop effective ways to activate the rinks and adequately measure the impact of these initiatives.
Selected in the fall of 2022, the City of Saint-Jerome has distinguished itself by its large number of elementary and secondary schools with a high deprivation index. While the municipality’s population is growing faster than the national average, the median income of households in Saint-Jerome remains considerably lower than that of rest of the province of Quebec, leaving several areas of the city materially and socially disadvantaged. The specific location that was chosen for this first BLEU BLANC BOUGE rink in the Laurentians stood out due to its proximity to multiple schools, youth community organizations, and social housing. Over 2,200 students aged 4 to 12 within a 1.5 km radius of Honorine-Melançon Park will directly benefit from these new facilities, in addition to the 16,000 students aged 13 and over attending nearby secondary and post-secondary institutions. Saint-Jerome also has several multi-sector groups and initiatives mobilized around issues related to the adoption of a healthy lifestyle among young people, such as the Collectif 0-25 ans, which promotes accessibility to services and acts on the social determinants of health.
About the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program
Built in accordance with NHL standards and dimensions and featuring professional ice quality, BLEU BLANC BOUGE rinks are versatile enough to be used for other sports during the year. Predominantly used for ice skating and hockey from late November to mid-March, the rinks become an ideal playground for other sports such as basketball, soccer, ball hockey and other types of games during the spring, summer and fall months. The donation of this infrastructure comes with 100 pairs of skates, 100 helmets and 100 hockey sticks for children to use at the facility.
A flagship project of the Foundation since 2009, the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program, celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, now boasts 14 outdoor, refrigerated, and multisport rinks. Six community rinks have been built in underprivileged boroughs of Montreal, while the other eight are located in Longueuil, Laval, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Joliette, Val-d’Or, Saguenay, and now Saint-Jerome. The construction of a 15th facility, slated for inauguration next winter, is scheduled to commence this summer in the La Cité-Limoilou borough of Quebec City.