Ottawa

Gatineau mall brainstormers want something quite different

Politicians, residents and business owners are thinking about what a Plateau mall should look like in 2044 — and it's quite different from what shoppers are used to.

Rezoning could bring parks, patios and paths

The existing mall in the Plateau district of Gatineau, Que., has a movie theatre, two supermarkets and several big-box stores. (Radio-Canada)

Politicians, residents and business owners are thinking about what a Plateau mall should look like in 2044 — and it's quite different from what shoppers are used to.

The existing complex on boulevard du Plateau west of boulevard Saint-Raymond in Gatineau, Que., is similar to those in many cities and towns, with big-box stores such as Walmart, Rona and Canadian Tire, and big parking lots.

But that model is outdated in an era promoting more active transportation and greenspace, said the area's councillor and president of the city's chamber of commerce at one of two public consultations on Saturday.

"[We're] all here to think about what this space could be 25 years from now, taking into account climate change and economic development," said Plateau Coun. Maude Marquis-Bissonnette, who commissioned a survey and helped organize the sessions.

"People want to go there [on foot], taking their bicycle or walking, and it's not very practical right now."

Coun. Maude Marquis-Bissonnette commissioned a survey and helped organize consultation sessions on what a Plateau mall should look like in 2044. 0:24

Seventy-five people came to Saturday morning's brainstorming session. The capacity was 65.

Many residents spoke about adding condos, parks, restaurants with patios and more transportation options.

More people came to the first public consultation on the future of the Plateau mall complex on Saturday morning than organizers had space for. (Radio-Canada)

"Cars are king and queen, pedestrians and cyclists are forgotten," said Bernard Hurteau, vice-president of the cycling advocacy group Action vélo Outaouais.

"There's no infrastructure for these people in these huge parking lots. It's very dangerous."

Bernard Hurteau said there are long-term care homes being built nearby, which need wider sidewalks, sloped curbs and pedestrian crossings so people don't have to try and dash across traffic lanes. (Radio-Canada)

The city doesn't own the land and can't force its vision on the developers, but it can rezone the area to allow and promote that kind of development.

With files from Martin Robert

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