Final scenario by next summer
Even though Place des Pionniers, 115 rue Principale, seems slated for demolition, residents of the area want to be consulted before any final decision is taken. Some would have preferred renovations to the building rather than its demolition.
One of the worries is the time the demolition and reconstruction will take. At one of the 2018 plenary meetings, the municipal administration said the work could take more than five years.
Needless to say, Rue Principale will not be the same while this construction work takes place. Will this have an impact on the businesses in the vicinity? Caroline Collins, owner of Roxi Lama, believes it will. As is the case for many, she is disappointed by the lack of citizen consultation.
Micheline Lemieux, President of the Aylmer Heritage Association, fears the impact on this main artery should there be a reconstruction of the building. “Before considering demolishing a heritage building, all other possibilities must be examined,” she wrote in a letter to the Bulletin Editor, published February 13.
During the summer of 2017, the City was considering the options of re-fitting and structural modifications for Place des Pionniers.
Questioned by the Bulletin, a few residents are wondering if there is still a way to keep Place des Pionniers as we know it now. Because of the unsafe deflexions of the upper floors, they propose to keep the books on the main floor. Some worry about the total cost of the project; they do not want surprises such as cost increases during the construction. For the time being, the City indicates that costs should not fluctuate once the contract is signed.
As they wanted regarding the reconstruction of the Marina Pavilion (scheduled to open in winter 2020), citizens want to have a say before a firm is mandated for the work. They want a public consultation and not just an information session.
The City wants to reassure the population
“All the reports that were done in the last decades, we are now compiling and putting numbers on them to open them to the public,” argues Mike Duggan, Aylmer Councillor responsible of the Lucy-Faris file. He admits that the work will have impacts, as does any other important project. “We are developing a transition plan so that the services can be offered at nearby spaces so that the business community doesn’t suffer,” adds Mr. Duggan.
The Mayor says that final decisions regarding the future building will be taken by next summer. “This will be a construction site with a high degree of complexity, and if the decision is taken, the stages are not finalized,” says Mr. Pedneaud-Jobin. Gatineau is evaluating its options for a 2- or 4-storey future library.
What is being done elsewhere?
Many large Canadian cities have constructed libraries in the last years.
Close to home, in the Plateau District, a library will open in spring 2020. Construction work should start soon. The cultural facility, at the cost of $13M, will be located in the “Coeur du village” of the Plateau, on Bruxelles Street.
Seeking inspiration, the three Aylmer elected officials visited the Varennes library on Thursday, February 21. They had the opportunity to discuss the signature building with the Mayor of the municipality. This 2,000 square metre library had cost $10M. Work started in 2012 and the library was opened in 2014. But Aylmer residents wonder why the future library doesn’t have a similar budget projection.
As financial support, the city of Varennes had received a $2.1M grant from the Department of Culture and Communications. At the time, the building was rated as the “first Net Zero institutional building in Quebec”. Its roof has photovoltaic solar panels. This unique building has a space for exhibitions and cultural animation, a smart return chute and an automated sorting system.
It took three years to build the Halifax 5 storey central library at the cost of $57.6M. Three levels of government financed the project. With its roof terrace, an auditorium, playgrounds and work spaces, the library give the city a special cachet. In 2016, the building received a governor general award for its architecture.
The largest library in Quebec is the Grande Bibliothèque (Montreal) which was built over a four-year period (2001 to 2005) at the cost of $90M. The provincial government financed the whole project. With 33,000 square metres and five storeys, such a library is of course out of the question for Old Aylmer. What do YOU propose for the Place des Pionniers? Let us know your ideas via the Bulletin’s Letter to the Editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org .