“Aylmer-Vanier Community" project: real estate developer Novatio presents redesigned concepts following citizen consultations
The location: a large vacant lot at the intersection of Vanier Street and Chemin d'Aylmer. The project: a mix of residential blocks, pedestrian paths and a commercial space that at first glance reminds one of the AGORA in the Plateau. This idyllic vision by Novatio immobilier is inspired by its motto "Beyond Housing" and is, at first glance, a concrete solution to the current housing crisis in the Outaouais. However, Novatio immobilier had to rethink its concept of an urban project in the middle of nature following citizen consultations and online surveys conducted in the summer of 2022. The Aylmer-Vanier phase 2 consultation, held on November 1st at the Doubletree by Hilton Gatineau-Ottawa by the Novatio Real Estate team and the architectural firm Lemay-Michaud, aimed to inform interested citizens of the changes made to the "Communauté Aylmer-Vanier" project.
Indeed, several issues have been raised since the presentation of the project in June 2022, notably the already overcrowded traffic on Chemin d'Aylmer during rush hour (and the issue of adding an entrance and exit for residents of the future residential blocks), the planned height of the buildings (and its impact on the light and sunlight on the neighbouring houses), the heritage character of Chemin d'Aylmer and Rue Vanier, not to mention the disappearance of a green space appreciated by the residents already established in this area. Thus, Novatio Real Estate representatives began the November 1, 2022 meeting by explaining the "optimized" downhill concept of the project: the tallest buildings and the planned commercial space would be concentrated on the axis of Chemin d'Aylmer, that is, the corner furthest from the pre-existing residential streets. Nancy Elliot Street, terminated by what the developer plans to be a roundabout, would be the main entrance and exit for the residences of the future complex. Underground parking, a children's park and a green community space complete Novatio Real Estate’s proposal for the project.
Representatives of the architectural firm Lemay-Michaud provided several clarifications regarding the construction and physical applications of the "Communauté Vanier-Aylmer" project. The maximum number of storeys on the two tallest buildings (which would be built on Chemin d’Aylmer) has been revised downward and is now set at 10 (instead of 15). The buildings on Vanier Street and Lynn Street would be lower, ranging from 6-7 storeys to 3-4 storeys, so as not to impact the light and landscape of the single-family residences in this neighbourhood. The firm also stated its interest in preserving the natural environment of this lot: the creek that runs through it and the larger trees are retained in the architectural plans. A footbridge across the creek, as well as three pedestrian and bicycle paths converging on the central block of the complex, complete the "car-free" vision of the firm and Novatio immobilier. These pathways could also provide an excellent link between the "bottom" of the project (the Lynn Street neighbourhood) and the "top" of the project (Chemin d'Aylmer) once the Gatineau tramway project is completed, noted the architects. It should be mentioned that an entrance-exit on Chemin d'Aylmer is indeed in the plans that were submitted to citizens on November 1, 2022, but would be reserved for commercial space and reserved parking (separate from the parking lots of the residential blocks).
The citizens present at the Aylmer-Vanier phase 2 consultation asked pertinent questions to the representatives of Novatio immobilier and the Lemay-Michaud firm. Following a question that asked the real estate team to specify its intentions regarding the typology of future rental units and their price ranges, the representatives remained vague. According to the plans, close to 425 units are planned, and the developer would like to offer "only rental units". It is impossible for the moment to know the affordability of the residences of the future complex. When asked about the project's zoning (possible application for a PPCMOI, or "particular project for the construction, modification or occupation of a building") and the relevance of housing in this section of the city, municipal councillor Anik Des Marais (Mitigomijokan district), who was present at the consultation, explained: "Why are we talking about [...] PPCMOI? We need to change the zoning - we have a development plan but the zoning at this point [I think] is four storeys. The specifics of a project like this may require zoning changes and that's what they [Novatio Real Estate] intend to do.” Visibly grateful for the presence of the city councillor, the Novatio Real Estate team concluded: "We based our decision on premises that we could confirm. The first being that this is a piece of land that is strategically located in Aylmer on a public transportation axis - tramway or not - and that will have, according to some studies that have been done, a population increase in the West End of the city of 30% until 2031. So there is clearly a need for housing. We put on our '2035' glasses: how can we develop a project with the community that will be viable in 2035 and in the future?”.
A second phase of citizen consultation via the Cocoriko platform is currently underway and will run until 30 November 2022. Interested citizens are invited to give their opinion on the optimized concept of the "Aylmer-Vanier Community" project. (Note that certain information, such as the postal codes, may be required in order to inform the city of the residence of participants.) The entire Novatio Real Estate presentations and redesigned concepts can be viewed at the following link: https://www.novatioimmobilier.com/.
Photo caption: (1) The optimized concept of the "Communauté Aylmer-Vanier" project
(2) The Aylmer-Vanier phase 2 citizen consultation on November 1, 2022
Photo credit: (1) Courtesy of Novatio immobilier and the firm Lemay-Michaud (2) Sonia Roy