September municipal council meeting highlights
Gatineau’s Municipal council hosted another (virtual) monthly meeting on September 22, discussing several important topics, including the Lucy-Faris library construction project, and paid homage to a late Aylmer politician.
Word from Mayor Max
Noting a considerable housing shortage in the city – accelerated by the pandemic – Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin proposed that council unanimously declare a housing state of emergency in Gatineau.
With a 1.5 per cent vacancy rate in the city, he added that the approximately 7,000 Gatineau residents paying 30-plus per cent of their income on rent need some relief as soon as possible.
After the Québec government declared a state of alert in the Outaouais following a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the region, Pedneaud-Jobin stressed the importance of respecting safety measures to minimize the spread and to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
He said the recent rise in cases and outbreaks within the community is why Outaouais transitioned from a state of vigilance to alertness, noting that COVID-19 cases in the region during the first wave mostly originated abroad.
As regional healthcare departments are already notably short-staffed, Pedneaud-Jobin emphasized the importance of following the rules to avoid going back into lockdown and overwhelming medical workers.
Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon expressed a word of sympathy about the loss of his neighbourhood friend and former Aylmer politician Alain Labonté who passed away on September 13 at the age of 69.
Highlighting Labonté’s positive impact on Lucerne and Aylmer at large, Chagnon remembered him for his engagement with the community, whether meeting residents while rolling through the streets in his orange Corvette or representing the population at municipal council meetings.
Calling him an exemplary leader, Chagnon also recalled Labonté being a passionate gardener.
He added that he’ll miss the daily ritual of waving hello to him while driving by over the past 30-some years.
“Colette, thank you for sharing Alain with us for all these years,” Chagnon said. “He’s a great builder of Aylmer who is leaving us.”
Aylmer councillor Audrey Bureau also paid homage to Labonté, sharing a few memories of him over the years - noting that he greatly supported her during her 2017 campaign.
She also announced that the Aylmer Community Market would be inaugurated on September 27 dedicated to fighting food insecurity in Aylmer, and she invited people to volunteer.
With COVID-19 becoming more severe, Bureau said she’s constantly communicating with local businesses and business associations to support the local economy during these hard times.
Deschênes councillor Mike Duggan praised the Terry Fox Foundation and participants of the Marathon of Hope for helping realize significant improvements in cancer research over the years.
Noting that the 40th annual Terry Fox Run (virutally) took place on September 20, Duggan said he participated and made a donation on behalf of municipal council.
He also thanked l’école secondaire Grande-Rivière’s Internationale program students, on behalf of the event’s organizer Bob McRae, for raising more than $2,200 for the cause.
Despite delays and issues with the process of adopting its new urban plan, Duggan said the city is on the right track.
As for reconstruction of the new Lucy-Faris library, Duggan said it’s the largest project in modern Aylmer’s history. He noted that all Gatineau residents should celebrate it and he invited them to use it when it opens.
Questions from the public, building height limits
Council received seven questions from residents, focusing on issues like parking regulations during the winter, illegal camping in Gatineau and proposed modifications to the city’s urban planning scheme.
Preoccupied with potential regulations that would allow maximum building heights of five storeys on rue Prinicipale, President of Friends of the Aylmer Marina Jean-François Lacombe requested that the city reduce that number to three.
Bureau said she’s also concerned about the proposed height limit, adding that many people have reached out to the city to voice discontentment about the same thing.
Having brought the issue to light during a recent meeting with the Comité consultatif d’urbanisme (CCU), she will analyze the request and keep close tabs on the file.
Commemorating life, New Lucy-Faris library project moving along
Municipal council took the opportunity to officially express sympathies on Labonté’s death after he passed away earlier this month.
Council took another step forward in the plan to demolish Place des Pionniers and erect a new library and municipal service building at 115 rue Principale, by authorizing an architectural contest to decide what the structure will look like.
Also, for Aylmer, council approved the building of a six-unit apartment building at 33 rue du Centre and of a residential project featuring two apartment buildings on 230-270 rue Nancy-Elliott.
Council approved a $1 million grant from the Ministry of Environment and Fight Against Climate Change to the Conseil régional de développement durable de l’Outaouais (CREDDO) for the Hull Island Greening Project - aiming to add trees to Gatineau’s downtown.
Sticking with Gatineau’s vision of becoming increasingly ecological, council approved the implementation of a program intended to partially subsidize fuel-oil heating system replacements for electrical ones. Intended for properties in areas admissible to the Programme de rénovation Québec, those eligible can receive subsidies of up to $3,500 to help fund the installation.
With a 1.5 per cent vacancy rate in the city and thousands of people struggling to find affordable housing, council unanimously declared a housing state of emergency for Gatineau – hoping to attract provincial government attention and funding.
Municipal council also nominated two local residents – Kate Helwig and Christian Matteau - to the city’s Conseil local du patrimoine. Selected for their experience or expertise in heritage, their mandates are effective until August 25, 2022. Bureau thanked residents who showed interest in joining the committee and in managing local heritage, calling it a step forward in how heritage spaces are protected in Gatineau.
In the Plateau, council received a $256,000 contribution from the Fonds des communautés pour le projet de logements abordables et communautaires projet Plateau, to build a 73-unit affordable housing project on 330 boulevard d’Europe. Noting that the project has been on the shelf for several years, Plateau councillor Maude Marquis-Bissonnette said the funding was necessary to make the project possible. The project is headed by Logements de l’Outaouais.
The city also requested financial support from the Ministry of Transportation to help implement the expansion and urbanization of chemin Pink.
Still meeting virtually for now
With a recent resurgence of coronavirus in the region, council President Daniel Champagne said meetings to be held virtually until further notice.
“We’ll see how the situation evolves,” Champagne said. “We’ll manage with caution and we will decide to return at the opportune time.”