21 March 2023

(Letter to the City of Gatineau)

The media regularly reports on the demolition of our built heritage jewels that have been left to decay throughout Quebec. The very recent destruction of the house at 485 Chemin d’Aylmer, listed in the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec, shows that this scourge also afflicts our community. Moreover, in Old Aylmer, buildings of exceptional interest are in a state of abandonment or dilapidation that makes us fear that they will soon fall under the demolition workers’ peak. One example is the house at 10 Principale Street. As we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the election of Aylmer’s first mayor, John Egan, this building from which he ran his business, the Union Forwarding Company, has been vacant and boarded up for more than 13 years, before the eyes of a concerned and powerless community.

Yet, the Aylmer Heritage Site Bylaw states that “all buildings located in the heritage site must be kept in good condition” (art. 5.1.1). It appears that the City has not been able, to date, to enforce compliance with its by-law. The need to put an end to a dangerous laissez-faire attitude towards the durability of the built heritage has finally been recognized by the Quebec legislator, who has amended the law to require municipalities to adopt a by-law concerning the maintenance of buildings, and in particular, heritage buildings. However, the City of Gatineau has been slow to adopt its by-law. Every month counts for buildings that have long been in a state of disrepair. The Aylmer Heritage Association is calling on elected officials to adopt the by-law without delay, a by-law that must include a rigorous and credible heritage protection regime. But the city must also deploy the necessary resources to ensure that its standards are respected and to accompany the owners.

Réjeanne Gagnon, President of the Aylmer Heritage Association

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)