22 rue Principale expansion
Old Aylmer developer seeks permit higher building, council delays vote
During the April 12 preparatory caucus and municipal council meetings, the discussion regarding the construction of a 48-unit residential building at 19 to 21 rue du Patrimoine brought about varied opinions from council members. Steven Boivin, councillor for the Aylmer district, opted to remove the request for variances from the agenda in favour of having more discussions about the project with associations, residents and the developer.
Boivin noted that the developer wants to work with residents and associations to modify the project so that it is satisfactory for those affected.
“I share many of the concerns about this project as others. It is important to preserve the heritage of Old Aylmer. I understand that this is not a perfect project,” said Boivin, noting that he would be voting in favour of the project before deciding to postpone the vote.
This project is proposed by the same developer who owns the building located at 22 rue Principale. At the time, the project was also highly controversial. After the 22 rue Principale project went forward in 2018, the previous municipal council and previous Aylmer councillor, Audrey Bureau, submitted a proposal for a Particular Urbanism Project (PPU) for Old Aylmer.
This PPU has been in progress since. It was originally set to be officially implemented by winter 2022, but has been delayed to 2023. The PPU will allow for sector specific development that reflect the social, economic and territorial aspects of the area. Bureau, an advocate for the PPU at the time, said that it would be used to moderate development in the area, particularly in regard to building height limits and densification, to avoid altering Old Aylmer’s historical identity.
Soon after, in March 2021, a zoning change capped new construction projects at three storeys. The same year, in December, the developer of the 19-21 rue du Patrimoine submitted a proposal for a five-storey residential building, similar to the building at 22 rue du patrimoine.
Boivin has worked with the project developer, as well as the Aylmer community, to come to a compromise for the project. February 7, Boivin held a public consultation with Aylmer residents and the project developer. After the meeting, the developer changed the proposal to a four-storey building instead of five.
Opponents feel that the construction of a modern residential building would significantly change the heritage identity of Old Aylmer. Others feel that due to its proximity to two other buildings of four floors, the project would not drastically change the landscape of Old Aylmer.
“As the municipal council, I believe we have the responsibility to avoid making decisions that could negatively impact the beauty and community of old Aylmer. It’s not only important for Aylmer but for all of Gatineau,” said Daniel Champagne, District councillor for Versant, during the April 12 preparatory caucus meeting. “I recognize the housing needs in Aylmer and that the project would meet some of these needs. However, when we look at the demographics, there are other places in Aylmer that can be used for this development. We must fiercely protect what Old Aylmer has to offer. We need to avoid the slow invasion of modernity that could make Old Aylmer lose its heritage identity.”
Other councillors, such as Action Gatineau’s Anik Des Marais, councillor for the Mitigomijokan district, and independent councillor Oliver Kamanyana, district councillor for the Carrefour-de-l'Hôpital district, echoed Champagne’s statements.
“We have a development plan that caps new buildings at three storeys. I don’t see how going from five to four storeys is a compromise. We have guidelines in place for a reason and they are supported by the residents,” said Des Marais.
The project is supported by Gatineau’s Service de l'Urbanisme et du Développement durable. Mike Duggan, councillor for the Pointe-Gatineau district, and Jocelyn Blondin, councillor for the Manoir-des-Trembles–Val-Tétreau district also voiced their support for the project.