Special Urbanism Planning for Old Aylmer: painting a portrait of the future
Aiming at harmonizing future infrastructural development in the heart of the sector, the city of Gatineau is planning to implement a Particular Urbanism Project (PPU) for Old Aylmer. On October 21, the Service de l’urbanisme et du développement durable (SUDD) presented a preliminary reflection of the proposed PPU to the Commission du développement du territoire, de l’habitation, et de l’environnement (CDTHE).
According to the provincial law on development and urbanism, a PPU gives a municipality the tools to zero in on neighbourhoods to encourage development. That includes an area’s detailed land use and density plans; projected traffic patterns; projected community equipment; zoning, subdivision and building regulations; planned projects and properties acquired by the city; timelines for construction projects; and particulars for redevelopment, restoration and demolition plans.
As part of the city’s new Land Use and Development Plan, Old Aylmer’s PPU would serve to more precisely plan sector-specific development to reflect the reality of its social, economic and territorial particularities. Requiring a modification to the city’s Land Use and Development Plan, the project necessitates a public consultation process before being ratified.
Having promoted the program since the start of her mandate, Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau was thrilled to see the PPU included in the city’s new urban plan and looks forward to consulting with residents about it. She stated that the program should be effective in maximizing Old Aylmer’s strengths and improving upon its weaknesses, notably by implementing particular zoning regulations.
Open to proposing zoning modifications in the neighbourhood as part of the PPU if residents demand it during its consultation process, Bureau said she will prioritize preserving Old Aylmer’s heritage and its values above all. Intending to use the project to moderate height limits and density in the area, she emphasized the importance of cautiousness when developing in Old Aylmer to avoid negatively affecting its historical value. “Old Aylmer is a heritage site,” Bureau said. “We need to be very careful in how we authorize development.”
Considering Old Aylmer’s importance to Gatineau, Plateau district councillor and CDTHE President Maude Marquis-Bissonnette said it’s important to take a novel approach to its development, noting that the PPU should allow just that.
---Aylmer’s Heritage Quarter
Centred on rue Principale and chemin d’Aylmer, Old Aylmer’s PPU sectorial study would divide the area into five spaces to address their specific issues. Those spaces include Parc des Cèdres, rue Principale, residential spaces, large commercial areas, and chemin d’Aylmer. With parts of the PPU’s planned delimitations located outside of Gatineau’s urban perimeter, its elaboration process would help define its exact limits.
It was explained that a portion of the area being studied includes Aylmer’s Heritage Quarter, and thus demands supervision of all development activities carried out in that space. The city’s new urban plan mandates that the PPU’s planning process be based on public participation to convey an integrated design that aims to harmonize future development with existing infrastructure.
Deployed in five stages, the first step of the project’s planification process – fall of 2020 – should focus on forming an advisory committee with representatives from different organizations and establishing its planning process. The second phase – winter of 2021 – would be to define the area’s significance and issues relating to heritage, requalification of urban areas, rue Principale’s commercial vitality, the quality of living spaces, and how to make Old Aylmer a central destination by elaborating its territorial portrait.
The process should include exploratory walks that people can participate in. The third step – summer of 2021 – would involve opportunities for public input via urban cafés, workshops and forums to help narrow down the project’s goals and to compile a consultation report to be presented to the CDTHE. Step four – summer or fall of 2021 – would be to formalize the new PPU, to be validated by its advisory committee, before being presented to the CDTHE. Step five would be to have Municipal council modify the city’s urban plan to adopt the project by the winter of 2022, before officially launching it.
A ten-year project, from 2022 to 2032, should include a mid-term review in 2027. Noting that information regarding the program’s consultation process should be unveiled this fall, Bureau encouraged residents to stay tuned for news on the horizon.
Deschênes district councillor Mike Duggan said he was a fan of the PPU of the area, noting that it will give the city more control over planned projects in Old Aylmer – notably moderating height limits. “It’s definitely a positive thing,” Duggan said. Highlighting it as an important tool to protect Old Aylmer’s charm, Lucerne district councillor Gilles Chagnon believes the program will be a beneficial investment for the city.