Traffic, school safety
New pharmacy sparks outcry
The TD Bank at the corner of Front Street and des Allumettières is slated for demolition and members of the Vieux Moulin Residents’ Association (VMRA) are objecting to its proposed replacement.
The bank, built in 2013, closed its doors in May 2017. A pharmacy is proposed to replace the bank, including an increase in square footage from 750m² to 979.2m².
Residents fear a business of this size poses safety hazards by increasing traffic volumes. L’École de Tournesol elementary school is across the street from the commercial lot on rue de la Fabrique.
Since the its construction in 2013, a Tim Hortons was built across from the school. According to Sandra Lemaire, President of the Residents’ Association, “A Tim Hortons with a drive-through brings as much traffic as a gas station, and a pharmacy of that size will bring another major increase.”
Councillor Mike Duggan has been working with the VMRA, and agrees that safety comes first. “The local economy and business interests remain a priority, but the safety of children and their environment trumps all other issues”.
No direct access
One problem is that there is no access into the commercial parking lot from des Allumettières, forcing motorists to drive through the neighbourhood’s entrance. Gatineau’s administration told Ms Lemaire that changes to Allumettières fall under provincial jurisdiction, and the MTQ is not being consulted on this project.
Ms Lemaire advises residents –and other residents’ associations -- to “stay informed and pay attention to what is being brought to your community. Do what you can to ensure that your concerns are at the table from the beginning, so that residents’ voices are taken into account and not just the voices of builders and promoters. Often City administrators don’t live in the neighbourhood, and don’t know the concerns -- and the promoters are not even from the region.”
Gatineau’s culture of fixing, not preventing, problems
Lemaire encourages residents to consult their city councillors, “Don’t be shy. Ask questions and get a seat at the table. Gatineau has a culture of going back to fix problems after they happen, but it’s better to prevent them, and that’s what we want now.”