A4 Architecture + Design consulted with several citizens in the Aylmer sector on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 to present an analysis on a development option for the land put up for sale by the City of Gatineau at the intersection of Lucerne and Fraser streets, in the Deschênes Forest. The opinions were categorical: all the citizens consulted were opposed to any development in this forest and the land must be fully preserved. The ecosystems are sensitive and need the entire area to survive. The citizens also asked to postpone the vote at the city council scheduled for July 7, 2020 so that the city can mandate or discuss with biologists the importance of this ecosystem, as well as consult the laws surrounding the protection of habitats of endangered spaces (animal and plant).
The A4 team took the initiative to develop these sketches in the context of the land being offered for sale in April 2020. The land has an important ecosystem and there was no reference to it in the RFP criteria. We decided to continue developing these sketches after the tender was suspended to initiate a discussion on innovative development methods.
At the June 30, 2020 forum, some citizens recognized the boldness and innovative ideas presented in this plan. The concepts are based on LEED AQ and ISO 37120: 2014 – Sustainable Community Development:
- connectivity between natural spaces (minimum 20m strips)
- compensating for the loss of green space through flat roofs with vegetation
- incorporating window patterns to protect birds
- control of exterior light to eliminate light pollution
- soil protection during excavation and construction to limit erosion
- integration of indoor and/or covered parking and light-coloured permeable paving for outdoor parking
- the construction of dense 3 to 6 storey buildings
- integration of shared exterior circulation to create through-housing (natural ventilation)
- planning of affordable housing (e.g. Coop project).
This type of development would be interesting and favourable on other lands in Gatineau, but not on the Deschênes Forest, even if only a part of it was developed. The entire forest must be protected. The challenges raised by citizens for such a project are to align the zoning and the city’s by-laws, as well as to convince developers that this type of project is the future and that we need to change our way of developing.