An Ottawa development company is “days away” from a deal to buy and transform waterfront property that once housed the Domtar paper mill.

Windmill Developments said they’re very close to buying 37 acres of land on Chaudière Island, with a plan to build a sustainable community they’re calling Les Isles.

A letter of intent from July said Windmill’s plan is to “reinvent a historically rich industrial space into a vibrant, world-class, sustainable, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development" that’s sensitive to the island’s history.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he’s excited by the idea.

“They're a very environmental firm, first and foremost, so I think they will put together a plan that is really our version of (Vancouver’s) Granville Island,” he said on Saturday.

“If people have seen Granville Island they'll have a sense of using some of the old buildings, the old architecture, shops, cafes and so on.”

Public consultation set for Dec. 11

The land in question borders property owned by the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, the National Capital Commission and Hydro-Québec.


The Domtar buildings are a familiar sight for commuters crossing the Chaudière Bridge to and from Ottawa and Gatineau. (Google Street View)

Most of the industrial buildings on the island have been empty since Domtar closed in 2007.

“Chaudière Bridge is the entrance to Hull and Gatineau, so I think it's important that we have something much better, much interesting, that could bring tourism and visitors,” said Gatineau councillor Richard Begin.

Windmill said it wasn’t willing to share a timeline for the project until the sale has been finalized.

A public consultation has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.