Ward 1 election issue:
Candidates speak up on marina renovations
Brendan Shaughnessy & Lily Ryan
Candidates in Aylmer Ward, District 1, have outlined their views on the future of the Marina Pavilion. Slated for years to be renovated or demolished and rebuilt, the site is a popular hub for much of the Outaouais. The restaurant owners lease the three-season building from the city, offering park visitors bathrooms when city-run toilets are closed. Despite a leaking roof and damaged deck, the city has not allowed the family that runs the restaurant to renovate, or to fix the building. With a contract into 2018, the lessees have budgeted to run the Resto-Bar Marina according to their contract, yet realize the building needs an investment of at least a quarter-million dollars. This has become an election issue. The city has had $6 million reserved for years to rebuild the site, with an engineer already working on the new design.
Audrey Bureau says she wants the marina pavilion to become a four-season centre for outdoor activities.
She says Gatineau Park’s Visitor Centre and pavilion in Chelsea has had a positive effect on nearby businesses throughout the year; she wants to recreate that effect.
Ms Bureau says “this building will have a key role in the development of the marina. I hope the project will be ambitious.” She believes the renovation should be in tandem with the rebuilding of the Centre L’Imagier; both projects would inject new life in Front Street and rue Principale. She’d like a free boat-wash station and equipment rentals at the marina.
Bureau adds that she would work with the Ottawa Riverkeeper organization to better inform citizens, in real time, regarding wastewater overflows.
“The Riverkeeper could be a strong ally in improving Aylmer’s water quality. They have helped Ottawa come up with a plan to reduce overflows, and we see results on the Ontario side,” she noted. “I know Riverkeeper (officials) are willing to help Gatineau.”
David Inglis says city officials could make the marina more inviting, but they have to take their time in planning. Citing the Rue Principale redesign as an example, Inglis says, “It’s always ‘rush, rush, rush’, and that’s the worst thing to do.”
Inglis would like to see a fishing pier for young residents, an excavated beach area to improve swimming, an additional pathway between the bike path and river, and permanent barbecues for public use.
He adds that improvements are needed for the congested parking area, in light of Aylmer’s increased population. The numerous boaters redirected from Luskville don’t help in that regard, he says.
If city officials can invest millions in a new arena complex, Inglis argues, then they can find some more money for the marina ($5.4 million was set aside for marina redevelopment in 2015). “If that’s all I did in the next four years, I’d be proud of just that,” Inglis says. “It’s that important to Aylmer.”
François Sylvestre says he shares Inglis’ view that marina plans have to be fully formed before work begins. He wants consultation with citizens. Residents have told him they want the facilities open longer and with better access for persons with disabilities and for seniors.
Sylvestre wants nearby residents to vote on their preferred design for the new pavilion. He says any marina plans must also take the future of the Auberge Symmes Inn and Parc des Cèdres into account.
He agrees that officials should find a safer way for cyclists, pedestrians and boaters to share the space, and shares his opponent’s view that there should be more fixed installations such as benches, tables and barbecues throughout the park.
Sylvestre says the relatively small investment in a splash pad could help draw more families to the area. “A lot of the younger kids, especially newcomers, aren’t comfortable going to the beach or in the water there,” he says. “Splash pads are a very low-cost alternative.”
Sylvestre also wants launch fees for boats, noting that Aylmer is the only location without such fees in the city.