A new sports dome in Leamington is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board says Leamington has approved a zoning bylaw amendment which clears the way for the construction of a new sports dome at the former Queen of Peace Catholic elementary school site.

“We believe this new space will be a wonderful location for those students who are interested in enrolling in our very successful sports academy programs,”said Director of Education Terry Lyons. “We’re very grateful that the town’s leaders see the benefits of having such a facility in their community.”

The WECDSB was seeking approval of a bylaw amendment which would reduce the required amount of parking spaces, and a reduction in the size of the side yard setback at the Ellison Avenue property.

The proposed dome, which still requires site plan approval, would be used by students in the Cardinal Carter Catholic Middle School and Secondary School sports academy programs.

The multi-use facility, to be built immediately west of and connected to the former Queen of Peace building, would be large enough to accommodate two soccer fields, but can also be used for a variety of other sports.

A report before council acknowledged that the proposed facility conforms with the town’s existing land use policies, as well as its provincial policy statement, which calls for the promotion of a healthy community by providing recreational opportunities that residents can enjoy.

Now that the bylaw amendment has been approved, the school board is hoping to have shovels in the ground this summer with an anticipated opening by early 2019.

“I’m looking forward to our administrative team working very closely with their colleagues at the municipality, as well as local residents, to make sure that we create a first-class facility that we can all be proud of,” said Mary DiMenna, the WECDSB trustee who represents Leamington.

“We believe this will provide excellent learning space for our students as well as exciting new recreational opportunities for the residents of Leamington.”