Audrey Bureau, candidate for Aylmer in interview on a 4-rink arena for the west
Audrey Bureau, independent candidate in Aylmer (District 1), considers a 4-rink arena for the west (Hull and Aylmer) a priority, which should not be left to the whim of private builders.
The decision to move the Robert Guertin arena to the east (Gatineau, Masson-Anger and Buckingham) has been taken. Citizens want to see the end of this file, which has been preoccupying the city council for far too long. According to Bureau, “this is an example of the cynicism that politics can generate.”.
“While Robert Guertin is moving to the east, what happens to the west? Why has this file taken so long to move forward? Why was it not presented to the city council sooner?” wondered Bureau. “It certainly could have moved forward separately from the Robert Guertin file, since the city council knew that an arena in the west would go forward independent of the final decision on Guertin.”
Last June, city council adopted a comprehensive development plan for arenas. According to this plan, the Cholette, Beaudry and Robert Guertin arenas will be demolished. The council has given the City the mandate to seek private requests for proposals for a 3-rink arena in the west (in Le Plateau), scheduled for 2020. “Having three new arenas to replace three old ones does not mean another arena for Aylmer,” added Bureau.
The west is experiencing a population boom, 48% of Gatineau’s new residents between 2001-2011 came to Aylmer, representing 18,611 persons. In the coming years, Aylmer’s population will increase by 22% or about 10,000 new residents. By 2051, the population will be between 79,500 and 92,000. As for the west, it will almost be equivalent to that of the east; yet the east has eight rinks, while the west has five.
The City believes it presently meets the Quebec federation of hockey standards, which require a minimum and do not take into account the needs of events from the west such as tournaments, clinics, luge hockey, etc.
The procurement process, which is currently planned as a public/private type of partnership, calls for a minimum of three rinks. The private sector presumably could perform a market analysis on the needs of the west to include the needs mentioned above and conclude that there is sufficient need to build a 4-rink arena. “Do we want to take that risk? Should we let the private sector dictate the type of installation for our youths? Or, should we voice our concerns to the private sector now and express more clearly our hope for a 4-rink installation?” Audrey asked. The private sector would have to adjust accordingly and determine whether it still wanted to submit a proposal or not? Audrey stated that “a 4-rink arena is what we need, and to accept a 3-rink arena would be a mistake if we want to build for generations to come.”
Sports are important for Aylmer’s youth. They lack activities and sites they can call their own. Sports foster youth development and healthy living habits, not only in hockey, but also in other sports. “My parents always encouraged us to practise as many sports as possible. They adopted the philosophy that sports kept youths from getting into trouble. I believe they were right,” said Bureau.
“Let’s be vigilant in this procurement process,” added Bureau.