Amid complaints, Quebec town forbids nudity in pool locker rooms

A Montreal-area town has decided to forbid all nudity in the locker rooms of its municipal pools — a level of discretion that has one man wondering if it doesn’t go too far.

Brossard advised residents in its newsletter this month it wouldn’t allow men or women to walk around naked in their respective locker room and showers.

For now, the penalty is a simple warning. The city says it had to act after being inundated with complaints about nudity in what it considers a public space.

Longtime resident Roland Berard, 67, says he finds the new rule “regressive.”

“I don’t agree with having to cover up in the men’s locker room when I’m changing and when I’m taking a shower,” he said. “I agree to be discreet.”

Berard, who swims in the mornings when it is adults who are mostly present, said he doesn’t see a problem changing or showering while naked.

The 30-year Brossard resident said he’s never had an issue, even when his own children took swimming lessons at the same pools.

He wonders if educating kids about the human body shouldn’t just be left up to parents.

“I just thought it was a bit regressive to do that based on — I don’t know how many complaints the city has had — … complaints of people having other people’s nudity imposed on them,” Berard said.

He said he’s not looking to create conflict and will comply, but thinks it’s an issue worthy of discussion.

Eric Leuenberger, aquatic activities director for the City of Brossard, said the move comes amid widespread discontent among a wide range of pool users.

“If the measures were reinforced, it’s because we got numerous complaints — from parents who didn’t want their kids exposed to nudity and adults who were ill at ease,” Leuenberger said. “It might be a generational question, but we received many.”

The cover-up rules come as Brossard breaks ground on a new aquatic complex, one that will do away with gender-specific change areas in favour of a universal locker room. The facility is expected to be ready in 2019.

Brossard currently uses two high school pools with limited locker space.

The new $45-million aquatic centre includes the gender-inclusive shared space that will cater to individuals, families and people with disabilities, including a common area and private showers and change stalls.

The spaces are used in several facilities across Canada and are commonplace in European locales including Switzerland, France and Belgium.

The Brossard official defended the new rules as necessary, adding “we can’t have different rules for a category of citizens — we want one rule for everybody.”

He said people like Berard will simply have to live with it.

“I’m not saying Mr. Berard’s behaviour is wrong,” Leuenberger added. “Ten years ago, we might not have said anything. But this is where we are now.”

Leuenberger said there have been two complaints since the introduction of the new rules, including Berard’s.

Locker-room nudity also surfaced as an issue in Montreal this past summer when signs cropped up at a pool asking swimmers to show discretion and not hang around in the buff.

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