During the last council meeting, August 25, the now infamous construction at 42 Cochrane Street in Aylmer came up during the question period. Often compared to the 79 Fraser Road saga, this story is also tarnishing the image of Gatineau’s planning division; the comments of two Aylmer residents to council did not help restore it.
The couple who spoke out at the meeting live at 44 Cochrane Street. They were very critical of the new duplex dubbed “the tower” which stands alongside their home. They added that 98% of the neighbourhood signed a petition requesting the construction permit’s outright cancellation.
The residents repeatedly lambasted the city’s planning division for its lack of rigour and diligence. They told council that bureaucrats issued the duplex’s construction permit without having all the documentation required.
After taking it out on the planning division, the residents asked if the city would pay to replace the home’s controversial inclined roof.
The mayor explained some of the rules for new construction projects in Gatineau. He said that on a street like Cochrane where there is no architectural implementation and integration plan (PIIA) the municipality only deals with broad rules. “When someone stretches the rules a little, they give you the results we are facing now,” explained Mayor Pedneaud-Jobin.
To offset this apparent loophole in the rules, Richard Bégin, Advisory Planning Committee (CCU) Chair, is working with the planning division to find a city-wide solution to such regulatory issues.
The quick fix, according to the mayor, is to have a city-wide PIIA, but that would send every construction file to the CCU’s desk. “This would be nonsense,” he argued; “this would generate months of delays for everyone, even those building within the proper standards. We are looking to see if we can have a mini city-wide PIIA with specific criteria to allow us to avoid excesses,” added the mayor. The mayor said he’s confident the city can develop a proper framework.
As for the case of 42 Cochrane Street, the mayor is worried about the precedent it would set if the city compensates residents in this instance. He said this case is complicated since the new duplex respects the city’s rules, as announced in a press release in late August following a media storm over the complaints.