The Boucher Forest Foundation is now in charge of the Boucher Forest
The municipal council meeting in Aylmer was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Boucher Forest. As of May 14 and by unanimous vote, the Mayor and Councillors of Gatineau have assigned Boucher Forest management to the Foundation.
The agreement voted upon provides for the completion of the work required to create a park on the Boucher Forest lands, which is still property of the City of Gatineau.
“This is a major milestone for Boucher Forest,” says Adrian Corbo, President of the Foundation. “For more than 30 years, the people of the Aylmer sector have been mobilizing for the protection of their forest, to make it accessible to them in a thoughtful and structured way, while protecting their ecosystems.”
For over ten years, the Boucher Forest Foundation has relied on the work of hundreds of volunteers to come to this historic agreement.
In Mr Corbo’s words, “As we have seen in the last few years, the Boucher Forest has become an issue for citizens from one end of Gatineau to the other.” It’s an opinion he shares with Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin who also emphasized in his opening remarks that this is an important moment not only for Aylmer, but for the city as a whole.
“You see what it’s like not to take care of nature, there are important consequences for climate change,” said Mr Pedneaud-Jobin. “We have an exceptional green infrastructure in the Boucher Forest which provides a lot of services pertaining to the quality of the air and water, as well as the absorption of runoff water.”
With these words, the mayor echoed the increasingly widespread philosophy that the protection of natural environments is an investment that will allow cities to make long-term savings in the management and prevention of climate change-related weather events as well as the construction and upgrading of gray infrastructure such as storm drainage systems.
In Aylmer, where high-speed real estate development has been going on for decades, the preservation of a natural environment such as the Boucher Forest helps to retain runoff water from surrounding neighborhoods, and thus to reduce the volume passing through the sewers. It also acts as a natural shading and water retention system in times of extreme heat.
The tasks assigned to the Foundation include the planning and development of trails, signage, street furniture and activities within the Boucher Forest. “We are an organization whose primary mission is the protection of the natural habitats of the Boucher Forest,” concludes Mr Corbo. “For us, Parc de la Forêt-Boucher will be a green space where Gatineau residents can easily get in touch with nature and where they can fully enjoy this forest in the heart of our city.”
The total budget for the agreement reached last Tuesday is $925,000 by 2021. The Boucher Forest Foundation will also contribute $140,000 from its funds to help further the project.
Work Has Already Begun
The first phase of the agreement has already begun and consists of conducting a market study to assess the interests and needs of the citizens of Gatineau in connection with the creation of a park in the Boucher Forest. The Boucher Forest Foundation will work in collaboration with the Université du Québec en Outaouais to survey the population and analyze the forest’s development potential.
All citizens are invited to respond to the short questionnaire at www.fondationforetboucher.ca by June 7 to contribute to this project that aims to enhance the offer of outdoor services in Gatineau as a whole but more specifically in the western part of the city.
Citizens who wish to discuss the projects of the Boucher Forest Foundation in connection with the creation of the park are invited to participate in its annual general meeting, followed with cocktails, which will be held on Wednesday, June 19, at the Gallicus artisan brewery on 670 Rue Auguste Mondoux.