---Gatineau urban planning discussions take shape
Inching closer to adopting its new urban planning scheme and zoning regulations, the city is just awaiting municipal authorities’ approval to get everything wrapped up by the end of the fall. On September 11, municipal officials presented their revised urban and zoning regulations to the Commission du territoire, de l’habitation et de l’envrionnement (CDTHE).
For CDTHE President and Plateau councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette, one of the most significant steps taken by the city has been its efforts to protect wetlands – noting that more than 90 per cent of Gatineau’s wetlands will be preserved with the proposed regulations. She added that the city proposed to completely protect wetlands located in eco-territories and green corridors within the urban perimeter. As to what to do with the low percentage of wetlands left, she stated that cities and municipalities are mandated by the Quebec government to elaborate an action plan by 2022.
For wooded areas, the city wants to preserve eco-territories entirely and to increase its protection rate of green corridors from 50 to 60 per cent, Marquis-Bissonnette said. The city is also looking to augment its preservation of woodlands for protection and integration from 15 per cent across the territory to 40 per cent and also proposed a number of adjustments to tighten tree cutting restrictions during development projects.
Expecting tens of thousands of new addresses in the decades to come – mostly in Aylmer – she explained that areas in the city where the most significant development will occur are in places delimited within Gatineau’s urban structure and in public transportation hubs. Those include Old Aylmer, the Plateau neighbourhood, boulevard des Allumettières in northwest Aylmer and in a smaller pocket in Deschênes.
Further promoting density, underground or structured parking lots were proposed to become mandatory for buildings at 300 metres or less from an actual or projected public transportation station. She added that the city is also envisioning the establishment of eco-neighbourhoods in certain sectors composed of grid street patterns, noting that they’re favourable to active and public transportation as well as the environment. “It aims to reduce carbon footprints while building up its population,” Marquis-Bissonnette said.
On September 10, the presentation was provided for municipal councillors. On August 31, the proposed adjustments were presented to the Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU), which recommended it with one dissenting vote. CCU member and Deschênes councillor Mike Duggan said he voted against the proposed urban planning scheme because of a lack of methodology that could lead to more issues going forward.
He noted allocations of density in the wrong areas and the plan’s failure to harmonize with the Société de Transport de l’Outouais’ (STO) tramway project that will bring another high density corridor on chemin d’Aylmer – which he stated is not in the urban plan. “The plan does not identify Aylmer road as a high-density corridor, yet the STO continues to plan for this,” Duggan said in a Facebook message. “It’s completely unacceptable governance-wise to have two public institutions working in different directions on something so impactful.”
For Duggan, allowing 10-storey buildings in Deschênes – as has been proposed – is nonoptimal because of its distance from transit arteries and would look out of place in that neighbourhood. He stated that high density should’ve been allocated along chemin McConnell near chemin Vanier; and Vanier between chemin d’Aylmer and boulevard des Allumetières, while they have been zoned for two-to-four storey buildings. “Makes no sense,” Duggan said.
Along with what has already been proposed, Marquis-Bissonnette noted that more adjustments could happen before it gets approved or that it could get approved with some recommended adjustments. The city expects to see municipal council adopt draft regulations during its public meeting on September 22 and to host a final public consultation on the matter on October 13, before adopting the official regulations on October 20. According to the Loi sur l’aménagement et l’urbanisme, the city must complete the process before October 31.
While the deadline could feasibly be extended if councillors vote against it, Marquis-Bissonnette is quite optimistic that the proposed adjustments will become new adjustments. “That’s not the direction we’re taking,” Marquis-Bissonnette said.
More information on the subject, including the presentation itself, and responses to comments during public consultations is available on the city’s website - https://www.gatineau.ca/portail/default.aspx?p=guichet_municipal/participation_citoyenne/consultations_publiques/consultations_publiques_2020/travaux_concordance_revision_plan_urbanisme#plan-d-urbanisme-et-fiches-syntheses.
As part of the revision of its urban planning scheme, the city is ensuring that its new urbanism and zoning regulations are in line with its revised layout and development plan (SADR) established in 2015. SADR materialized from an extensive public consultation process going from 2012 to 2015. From March until June, the city hosted several public consultations to give residents a chance to contribute to shaping Gatineau’s future.
The city said it classified public comments into two categories: general - pertaining to everyday citizens, and zoning-specific - mostly pertaining to developers and promoters. Among other things, public comments largely focused on enhancing environmental protection, linking the city’s plans with the Société de Transport de l’Outaouais’ (STO) tramway project and ensuring density comes with the right kind of infrastructure and proximal services to improve quality of life.
As the city’s main guide for planning development across the territory, SADR aims to provide a template for the future going until 2051.