A local opportunity not to be missed
Canadian Tire’s early departure from Old Aylmer is regrettable, and while the loss of this important economic player is deplorable it opens the door to new opportunities to improve the neighbourhood. As the saying goes, when a door closes a window opens. The window opening is an opportunity to transform for the better a gateway to Old Aylmer.
Canadian Tire owns a large lot besides Galeries Aylmer which runs alongside Wilfrid-Lavigne Boulevard. The lot, presently occupied by the parting store and two large parking lots, is expected to be on the market, if it’s not already. As a result, the strategic Old Aylmer street corner, adjacent to Aylmer’s heritage quarter, is ripe for change.
The issue is that the large insipid parking lots rub shoulders with beautiful heritage properties, such as the Aylmer Academy, the Aylmer United Church, and is a stone’s throw away from the notable Monastère and Christ Church.
In the past, the presence of the John Egan House (Montessori School) and the Redemptorist Monastery forced nearby buildings, such as the Tim Hortons, - described by an Ottawa friend as the “nicest Tim Hortons she’d even seen” - and the Pharmaprix building to adopt a look that blended nicely with surrounding buildings. Unfortunately, a big parking lot in front of 178 rue Principale (housing Pharmaprix) was permitted, instead of having the pleasing facade run parallel to the street. The Canadian Tire parking lot also prevented extending rue Principale’s charm. With important and what seems like relentless commercial development in the Plateau, Old Aylmer must bank on what big-box stores cannot offer: charm, intimacy and style.
A sale of Canadian Tire’s large property is our community’s opportunity to free the intersection, and the leg running along Wilfrid-Lavigne Boulevard, of unsightly pavement overrun by vehicles and stationary semi-trailers.
Those interested in embellishing Old Aylmer ought to contact their Aylmer councillors encouraging them to closely follow any coming changes here. This would assure them that the population is watching and is interested. And this ensures the coming development, following the CTC departure, will offer something refreshing for this important corridor.
If we look at the past, Aylmer’s three councillors should be all ears. Deschênes Councillor Richard Bégin, who’s also chair of the important planning committee, showed his disapproval of large expanses of pavement, mainly in the Rivermead parking lot discussions.
During his election campaign, Lucerne Councillor Mike Duggan favoured the re-greening of the Principale and Wilfrid-Lavigne intersection. “There’s definitely too much grey and not enough green and brown,” said Duggan back in the summer of 2013.
Aylmer Councillor Josée Lacasse championed the revitalization of Aylmer’s rue Principale during her campaign and argued for more green space around new construction.
Time is of the essence because is it easier to influence a project’s pathway before it is fully laid out than once it is complete. Talk to your councillors!