---Municipal council meeting highlights
Gatineau’s municipal council once again held its monthly municipal council meeting virtually on November 17, adopting a number of big projects like Destination Vanier, Belvédère Lattion and its new Land Use and Development Plan.
---Mayor criticises systemic underfunding of Outaouais health infrastructure
Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin opened with a letter addressing Québec’s National Assembly regarding the state of the pandemic locally and how it should be handled.
Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais have been under Red Zone Alert (maximum alert) for quite some time and the mayor addressed the reasons the region ended up in this position. Pedneaud-Jobin pointed out the injustice of Red Zone alert creating negative economic and social impacts, and the urgency of rectifying the matter.
He noted that the region’s rate of active cases since the start of the pandemic has been the lowest of any area in the red zone in Québec, even lower than a few regions at code orange. He added that, considering the virus’ actual state of severity in Gatineau, the city should be placed in the orange zone, even pale orange. However, he stated the region’s main issue is the fragility of its health care network, noting that the situation would be different, if it weren’t for its shortage of medical resources.
“We are, even today, victims of decades of negligence in health care investments and it hurts,” Pedneaud-Jobin said. He added that medical operations are regularly being pushed back to make room for COVID-19 patients.
--Councillors’ open comments
Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau invited locals to support the Old Aylmer Christmas Market at the Commemorative Park, starting on November 27. The event will take place over two weekends, with more than 20 local merchants selling a variety of goods.
Thanking those who contributed to the new Land Use and Development Plan’s expansion, she noted that managing Aylmer’s rapid population growth remains a challenge and stated that the city’s demographic projections have already been surpassed. Having voted against the plan, Bureau’s biggest priorities for the sector remain environmental protection, preserving local heritage, and developing essential infrastructure, hoping they will be addressed in the future.
Plateau district councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette highlighted the new Land Use and Development Plan, stating that it presents ambitious ecological objectives, including creating eco-neighbourhoods and preserving more natural spaces. She also announced a virtual discussion focusing on urban development in the Plateau on December 1, inviting residents to join.
Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon also addressed the new urban plan – which he voted against – stating that Aylmer’s level of essential infrastructure is not ready for the planned boom in population.
Highlighting the White Ribbon Campaign, Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan said the city was proclaiming itself as against domestic violence, encouraging people to be vigilant regarding the issue and denouncing it. He also said the city’s proposal to raise taxes by 2.1 per cent as part of its 2021 budget – to be adopted on December 8 – was intended to maintain the current level of municipal services.
Regarding the Land Use and Development Plan, Duggan said its completion is one of the city’s most significant achievements. While many people aren’t satisfied with it, he voted in its favour.
---Questions from the public
Council received eight questions from the public addressing various subjects, including the Land Use and Development Plan’s potential environmental ramifications, and the impacts of Aylmer’s rapidly growing population.
Destination Vanier, Belvédère Lattion, and more
Council voted 11 to seven to approve the Destination Vanier project, located from 555 to 558 chemin Vanier and 45 to 65 rue Seto in the Plateau district, despite certain councillors saying it doesn’t align with Gatineau’s vision of the future. It included certain adjustments, notably reducing the number of above-ground parking spaces from 264 to 241.
Council initially approved the project’s architectural integration and implementation plan (PIIA) in October of 2019. Among other modifications made since then, the project plans to featured a 100-space underground parking lot, some green space with trees, and permeable pavement – conforming to the city’s new urban plan.
Not a huge fan of smart centres, notably because they don’t favour active transportation, Plateau district councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette said she was in favour of the proposed modifications. But, she said the concept is outdated, won’t help illuminate Gatineau’s beauty and won’t contribute to reducing the city’s carbon footprint, so she voted against its PIIA. “We know that environments encourage lifestyle habits,” Marquis-Bissonnette said. “This will encourage people to use their cars, while I think the sector’s residents are ready for something else.” Duggan said the project isn’t exactly outdated, nor is it modern, dubbing it as somewhere in between.
Noting that the project’s developer BBL Construction is proposing to provide a number of proximal services and jobs for residents – in an already established neighbourhood – Duggan believes the project is important for Gatineau.
Council also officially adopted its new Land Use and Development Plan, which will pave the way as Gatineau’s guide for development over the next 30 years, and to continually monitor it for potential specific adjustments. In the Aylmer district, Council approved the construction of a 45-unit integrated residential project located at 2, 4 and 6 chemin Lattion, to be named Belvédère Lattion.
Close to public transportation access, and with a need to densify the area, Bureau said the project includes numerous positive aspects. She added that the project involved a written consultation period from October 25 to November 10, in which no residents participated.
Council also approved building an integrated residential complex located at 90 to 130 rue de la Fabrique, as part of the Vieux-Moulins Project’s sixth phase. Bureau proposed that the project include a community centre and communal living spaces for residents.
In the Deschênes district, council voted against building an isolated single-family home located in a protected wooded area at 968 chemin Klock.
Noting that the project is outside of Gatineau’s urban perimeter, Duggan stated that its owner should’ve been more diligent in consulting local environmental legislation. He added that the project includes the removal of trees without replanting them to install a septic tank in the backyard and, thus, he voted against it. Despite the project being rejected, it was noted that the owner has a building permit.
Council also approved Marquis-Bissonnette’s nomination to the Conseil régional de l’environnement et du développement durable de l’Outaouais (CREDDO) board of directors, replacing Duggan; modified a law establishing a tarification system to add fees associated to behavioural examinations for potentially dangerous dogs; and, to designate the John Hamilton house located at 771 boulevard Alexandre-Taché as a heritage site.