Gatineau aims to upgrade the downtown with new program
Gatineau municipal council adopted Bylaw 916-2022 on April 12, marking the official launch of the “Programme de revitalisation pour la relance du centre-ville” (Downtown Revitalization Program). Developed in collaboration with Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, the program offers financial assistance to businesses, non-profit organizations and cooperatives located in downtown Gatineau. The program is related to a broader provincial initiative to help city centres recover from the economic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Under this program, downtown organizations and businesses of all sizes are eligible to apply for grants of $10,000 and over to cover costs for building rental, maintenance and renovation as well as employment-related expenses.
During the council’s preparatory caucus, councillor for Hull-Wright Steve Moran proposed amending the bylaw to make funding accessible to organizations and businesses desiring to relocate to the downtown area from other parts of the city. Moran explained that the original eligibility criteria in the bylaw, which would bar local organizations relocating to downtown from applying for funding, was not in keeping with the spirit of the program which aims to counter increased vacancy in the city centre. He clarified that amending the eligibility criteria would not draw local businesses away from other parts of the city as non-profit organizations were the most likely to relocate to downtown under the new program. “This [amendment] mainly concerns non-profit organizations, as it’s not a restaurant in the Agora that will be closing in order to move downtown, though it breaks my heart a bit to say so.” stated Moran.
Edmond Leclerc, councillor for Buckingham, and Anik Des Marais, councillor for the Mitigomijokan district, voiced their support for the proposed amendment. “If we want to revitalize downtown, we have to direct [organizations] there…,” said Des Marais.
During the council meeting, Steve Moran expressed his appreciation for the local administration as well as Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation for allocating $5,000,000 in support of the revitalization of Gatineau’s city centre calling the new program “an extremely important and welcome development.” He encouraged businesses and other organizations to apply as soon as possible since funding is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Further information on the Downtown Revitalization Program as well as instructions on how to apply can be found on the newly launched program page on the City of Gatineau website or by calling the city at 3-1-1.