Gatineau residents say no to highrises near Canadian Museum of History

A group of Gatineau residents is opposing two proposed highrise towers across from the Canadian Museum of History, saying the towers will have a negative impact on their historic neighbourhood.

'What we see is another wall,' say members of Protect the Museum Quarter

The proposed towers - a 35-storey tower and a 55-storey one - would be built directly across from the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. (Brigil)

A group of Gatineau residents is saying no to a proposed development project that would see two towers - one 35 storeys, the other 55 storeys - built facing the Canadian Museum of History.

"We feel that it's an unbalanced development – 55 storeys, half of the Empire State building, next to a little heritage neighbourhood made up of little two or three-storey homes that's been here for 100 years," said Lissa Constantine, a member of the group Protect the Museum Quarter who has lived in the neighbourhood for 20 years.

Gatineau developer Brigil is proposing the construction of two highrise towers on Laurier Street directly in front of the Canadian Museum of History and in the heart of the Museum Quarter, an historic residential neighbourhood protected by the city of Gatineau's urban development plan.

Brigil will need to go before Gatineau city council to request a modification to the development plan, which currently bans buildings over three storeys in the downtown area.

Lissa Constantine is one of the residents of the Museum Quarter fighting the proposed tower development. (CBC/Hallie Cotnam)
The towers would include a hotel, condos, shops and an observation tower for views of the river and Parliament Hill. Brigil is promising to bring people into the downtown Hull sector of Gatineau, but Constantine doesn't agree.

"What we see is another wall," she told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "There are many ways to develop a city. What we actually need is city-wide development in a unique and heartfelt way."

The neighbourhood's city councillor, Denise Laferrière, has suggested the development would put Gatineau on the map, but Constantine disagrees.

"We live across the street from the Canadian Museum of History. It's pretty eye-catching all by itself, I don't think it needs a lot of help," she said. "What Hull really needs is a overall development and help with infrastructure."

Constantine added the group of residents is concerned about the precedent the two highrises could create for the downtown area, as well as the impact on the museum quarter's friendly community environment.

"People will probably visit the museum, get off the tour buses, maybe stay in the hotel, visit the shops, then get back on those buses and continue back to Ottawa," she said.

"People tend to mix less with the existing community in the area and basically keep to themselves in those buildings. They're not part of the Gatineau community."

Gatineau is holding a public consultation on the proposed towers today at the Maison du Citoyen, 25 Rue Laurier, Gatineau, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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