Aylmer councillor update – Lucerne district’s Gilles Chagnon
With under two years left in his first mandate as Lucerne-district councillor, Gilles Chagnon feels satisfied with how things have progressed, noting that his priority list has checked itself off swimmingly. Elected as an independent in 2017, he believes the main key for success has been the great collaboration with co-independent Aylmer-sector councillors Audrey Bureau (Aylmer) and Mike Duggan (Deschênes).
“It’s certain that we don’t have the same opinion on everything,” he said. “But we respect each other a lot and by respecting each other we advance files.”
Starting off the mandate, Chagnon’s priorities focused on improving his district as well as Aylmer as a whole. Among those were to provide Aylmer a new arena and a library, to effectively minimize tax increases, to ensure that local infrastructure co-exists with modern urban development methods and to conceive a modern solution for Aylmer’s transportation needs.
One project that gives Chagnon plenty of excitement is the implementation of an ecocentre in Aylmer by the year 2025.
“I hope that within four years it will be done,” he said. “I don’t think it will be in 2025. I think it will be faster than that.”
A drop-off station for residual materials not picked up during regular garbage collection, an ecocentre is waste-disposal facility for items like hazardous waste, electronics and tires. Gatineau currently has two, one in Hull and the other in Gatineau.
As one of the first initiatives he proposed to municipal council, Chagnon believes that local ecocentres are an essential service in big cities like Gatineau. Following an implementation study in 2018, the city of Gatineau’s administration confirmed with council that there was a need for such a project in the west and that its construction would cost around $7 million, Chagnon said. The next step is identifying a piece of land for the ecocentre and to ensure it follows environmental certifications before the project goes to budget later this year.
Another big Aylmer-wide development involves the construction of a multi-ice complex on municipally-owned land west of the Canadian Tire, in the Plateau area. Expected to host multiple ice surfaces, the facility will be privately operated by a business or a non-lucrative organization and the city will guarantee the purchase of a certain number of hours of ice time annually.
Chagnon believes that private ownership will be financially beneficial for the city, since it won’t need to pay for operational costs.
“It’s a test we’re doing,” he said.
Expected to open by 2022 – adding to Frank-Robinson and Isabelle-et-Paul-Duschesnay arenas – Chagnon believes the complex will greatly improve residents’ access to ice time, which has long been an issue for Aylmer.
Also boasting great potential for the sector is the Plan directeur d’aménagement et du design du Parc des Cèdres, which Chagnon hopes can be completed within a few years. But first, the project needs funding.
“It’s not in the budget yet,” he said. “We have to propose it.”
The plan, available on the city of Gatineau’s website, includes the newly-built pavilion at the marina as well as a number of recreational avenues, including an outdoor exercise area for seniors and a skating trail in the winter.
Another significant initiative included the reconstruction of Place des Pionniers on rue Principale. The new building will be three storeys high, featuring a two-floor library and municipal service spaces. Following an architectural decision, the building should be demolished by the end of 2020 and the new one built by 2024, Chagnon said.
Initially, the goal was expanding the original building, which would’ve cost around $22 million and an additional $17-$18 million to stabilize its shoddy structure – which would only last for another 10-20 years, he noted. Instead, council agreed to demolish the structure and erect a new one – that can last several decades - for $44 million.
Progress on the Boucher Forest also seems promising, noting that the city granted the Fondation Forêt Boucher $800,000 to devise a plan on what the city should do with the portion it owns, Chagnon said. The city owns 54 per cent of the forest with intentions of acquiring up to 75 per cent of it. Chagnon thinks the priority should be ecology while also sharing the area with the community.
“We want to make it an attraction while also protecting it,” he said.
For transportation, Chagnon has long been in favour of the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais (STO) implementing an express-bus system in Aylmer. But his vision hasn’t gained traction with municipal council or the STO. Having granted approval to the $2 billion tramway project, which is still being studied, Chagnon stressed the importance of launching the project as soon as possible, and of it being efficient enough to encourage people to use public transportation.
“We need to do something,” he said. “We need to stop thinking, doing one study after another. We need to get something done.”
“We don’t want people to bring their cars,” he added. “That’s defeating the purpose … we need to go fast. We need to do it well. But we need a service in place that answers people’s needs.”
As an Aylmer-native, always listening to residents’ needs, ensuring their utmost safety is crucial, Chagnon said. Over the last two years, he’s helped implement various measures to prevent speeding in his district and keep pedestrians safe.
“I’ve put up a lot of speed reduction measures,” he said. “I’ve put up a lot of pedagogical radars, speedbumps and enlarged sidewalks.”
Chagnon also ensured the installation of an additional layer of pavement on rue Klock, responding to locals’ concerns. A more complete repair of the rue Klock is expected in coming years, which will include the addition of a four-way stop at the intersection of rue Klock and chemin Antoine-Boucher, Chagnon said.
Plus, with a new high school – 040 – being built next to the Paul-Pelletier Aquatic Centre, Chagnon plans on building a bike path along rue Samuel-Edey.
Representing a relatively young population, Chagnon believes maintaining his district’s parks is paramount. At Parc Vieux-Verger, a newly-built splash pad is expected to be operational this summer. At Parc du Renard, a new skate park and a basketball court will be built, and new play structures will be installed at Parc des Carcajous. At Parc Lucerne-Nord, he said, the city will renovate spotlights, as well as the basketball and tennis courts, noting that Lucerne’s park-related projects to be completed by the end of 2020.
For the rest of his mandate, Chagnon expects follow-ups on different projects to garner most of his time, noting that an official offer for the ecocentre should be proposed and that the sports complex should be near completion.
“At least, if the first shovels hit the ground, I’ll be able to say I did my part,” he said.