Advertisement
Features

Cheerleaders forced out of their Saint-Leonard club

WATCH: A zoning issue is forcing a Saint-Leonard cheerleading club to close its doors. Brittany Henriques reports.

A cheerleading gym in Montreal’s Saint-Leonard borough is being forced out because it is located in a industrial zoning sector.

Janie Lapierre, co-owner of the gym, was devastated when she received the letter.

“I fell on my knees and I cried,” she said. “I was like I don’t have any more solutions.”

She says problems between the gym and the borough began when parents were getting ticketed for stopping their cars to drop off their children. Following an inspection of the area, the borough then noticed that SpiriX was not allowed to be there.

Lapierre said she tried to reach out to the City of Montreal and the borough to find a solution, but was unsuccessful.

READ MORE:St-Hubert Street’s Vélomane to close shop due to construction

The owner insisted moving was not an option — the sport requires specific dimensions often only found in industrial areas.

Story continues below advertisement

“At first we didn’t want to confront anything. We just wanted to move,” she said. “But we couldn’t find any place because I need a high ceiling, I need a place without beams for 40 feet by 55 feet.”

“We got to the point we had nothing in front of of us, we had no solution, or no solution that I could afford.”

Tweet This

According to Lapierre, neither her or the other owner of the building had any idea that cheerleading gyms weren’t allowed in the area.

“I don’t know why they waited five years to tell me this,” she said.

For the athletes like Theolina Yenelyanov, the news is especially tough.

“I had no words,” she said. “I cried a lot that night.”

READ MORE: ‘I feel humiliated’: Saint-Laurent family kicked out of park over service dog

For many SpiriX athletes, cheerleading was more than just a hobby. Coach Esanna Yemelyanov says she had a future with the gym but that has quickly changed.

“I was in shock because I’ve been here for eight years, I’m 19 — that’s almost half my life,” she said.

For her part, Yenelyanov says the gym means everything to her.

Story continues below advertisement

“I eat, sleep, cheer. That was my life,” said Yenelyanov.

The borough of Saint-Leonard released a statement saying it conducted an inspection of the private company following complaints from residents about parking and safety issues.

“Upon inspection, the borough discovered that SpiriX was not in compliance with Articles 3.1.2 and 3.1.4 of the Construction Regulation (1884), namely that the company did not possess a certificate of authorization for use and display, and that the commercial use exercised (gym) was prohibited in this sector,” the borough said.

The borough added that “zoning makes it possible to ensure the orderly development of a territory and to minimize disadvantages to the neighborhood, as well as to ensure the safety and general well-being of its citizens.”

A meeting between SpiriX Athletics and borough officials is scheduled for Friday.