Aylmer councillor update – Aylmer district’s Audrey Bureau
Now in the last half of her first mandate as Aylmer-district councillor, Audrey Bureau feels proud of the progress she has made in just over two years.
Facing an important infrastructural deficit at the beginning of her mandate, Bureau felt it was crucial to address those issues, working alongside Deschênes Councillor Mike Duggan and Lucerne Councillor Gilles Gagnon.
As far as infrastructural catch-up, the project to build a multi-ice surface sportsplex on municipally owned land in the Plateau area is an obvious example, Bureau said.
“We were in an infrastructural deficit of rinks in the west,” she said. “There was really a screaming need.”
Owned by a private company or non-lucrative organization rather than the city, Bureau explained that a major issue that remains to be finalized is the number of rinks the facility will feature. The city has already planned on demolishing three arenas in the Hull sector – Sabourin, Cholette and Guertin. So, she believes that if the complex has anything less than four ice surfaces, the project would defeat its purpose.
“So, if we only had a three-ice surface rink in the west, we would come back to the same issue that we have right now – we wouldn’t have enough ice time in the west … which would bring us back to the status quo and the status quo for me is not acceptable.”
Later this year, the city will unveil the chosen tenderer for the project, which is when the number of surfaces will be revealed, Bureau said.
Another project is the revitalization of the Marina and the Parc des Cèdres, which has already been planned and is waiting for financing, Bureau said. So far, the project has received a $200,000 grant from the provincial government to build an outdoor exercise facility for seniors. Titled the “Plan directeur d’aménagement et de design du Parc de Cèdres”, the project will be brought to this year’s municipal budget and, from there, a timeline will be decided.
“We’re going to position on financing for it for the rest of this year,” Bureau said.
Transportation is another major issue in Gatineau’s westernmost sector, Bureau said. She noted that the city has invested massively in the expansion of the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais’ (STO) services in Aylmer since 2017. Despite that, the area’s rapid population growth has exceeded STO’s capacity to serve them. As Vice-President of STO’s administrative council, she believes the $2 billion project of implementing a tramway passing through chemin d’Aylmer towards the Portage Bridge needs to happen in short order.
“Even if we improve the bus system year after year, it’s no longer sufficient to answer the level of demand,” she said. “It’s important for me that we don’t have any delays in the timeline and that we arrive with a project that will be financed by all levels of government”.
Still under study and awaiting federal funding, STO should announce the project’s final scenario by the end of 2020, Bureau said.
Environment has also been an important topic for Bureau, exemplified with the implementation of two community gardens and an anti-waste refrigerator in her district.
More significantly, she’s looking forward to seeing the Boucher Forest become a preserved area that citizens can benefit from. In 2019, the municipal council allocated $800,000 to the Fondation Forêt Boucher to create the Parc de la Forêt Boucher, expected to open in 2021. The city owns a little more than 50 per cent of the forest and is working to acquire 75 per cent of it. But Bureau doesn’t want to stop there.
“I think we need to acquire the most possible and aim to attain as close to 100 per cent of that land,” she said.
Despite some local discontent, a significant development set to hit the ground is the $44 million reconstruction of Place des Pionnier on rue Principale – home of Aylmer’s library. Expected to begin in 2021 and be finished by 2025, the project features a three-storey building with a two-floor library and other city service spaces.
Sympathizing with the locals’ sense of attachment to the 30-plus year-old structure, Bureau said its destruction notice was a tough pill to swallow.
“We know that people in the Aylmer sector are attached to the Place des Pionniers,” she said. “So, it was difficult to say that we’re going to demolish it.”
But after discussions with municipal council and engineers, she concluded that it was the right decision, adding that working with nearby businesspeople to reduce the economic impact of the construction will be crucial.
During her campaign, Bureau noted that Aylmer residents were very preoccupied by the lack of quality core services, like road repairs, snow removal and garbage disposal. Since 2017, the municipal council has augmented the city’s snow-removal budget by $1.2 million, while also investing an additional $300,000 in spring sweeping, which allows the city to paint pedestrian crossways a couple of weeks earlier, Bureau said.
The city also invested a little more than $25,000 to re-establish its free compost distribution program, in which Aylmer residents showed the highest participation rate of any sector, and has augmented the number of garbage and recycling containers in Old Aylmer, Bureau said. She added that, this spring, municipal council will discuss measures to extend the life expectancy of the city’s pavement.
In her district, Bureau noted two parks that would benefit from municipal investments, with the creation of Parc Spartan, on rue Spartan and the reinvigoration of Parc Tiberius, on rue Tiberius, both of which should be completed by the end of her mandate.
Also in the Aylmer district, the expansion of the Centre Communautaire Entre-Nous on rue Front has taken plenty of Bureau’s attention. Located in a relatively disadvantaged neighbourhood, Bureau said that the project holds particular importance to her.
She explained that the municipal council had recently applied to the provincial government for a $1 million grant from a fund called the Programme d’aide financière aux infrastructures recréatives et sportives, for an expansion project. A response on whether the grant is approved will be given this fall and then municipal council will decide on a timeline for the project.
Looking forward to the rest of her mandate, Bureau knows her biggest priority remains the improvement of Aylmer’s core services.
“I want to continue down the path of deploying actions that will allow us to reinforce the belief that Old Aylmer is an extraordinary place to live,” she said.
For big projects, the Marina and Parc des Cèdres, the sports complex in the west and the new library in Old Aylmer will take up plenty of her time and energy.