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Construction association fighting Gatineau's green roof rule in court

Quebec's construction is challenging Gatineau's new environmental building standards in court.

New environmental standards adopted in January will damage local economy, builders say

The Vancouver Convention Centre has one example of a "green roof" water management system. (City of Vancouver)

Quebec's construction is challenging Gatineau's new environmental building standards in court.

The city's new bylaws, which were approved and came into effect in late January, mean companies would need to install green roofs — either a garden or other greenery — on top of any building larger than 2,000 square metres.

New multi-residential buildings will have to include charging stations for electric vehicles and ensure parking areas are at least 40 per cent greenery. 

Sylvain Bertrand from the Outaouais chapter of the Association de la construction du Québec (ACQ) said the new rules add costs and will only push developers to other communities such as Ottawa, Cantley, Thurso or Val-des-Monts. 

"Gatineau is in competition with those municipalities," said Bertrand, who is also president of BBL Construction. 

This week the association announced it had filed for an appeal and a stay of proceedings with Quebec's superior court.

"What we're asking is to suspend those regulations because of the impact it has on some of our projects and our clients," he said. 

While Bertrand said the ACQ isn't against green developments, he hopes to sit down with the city to discuss modifying the rules.

He would like to see a greater flexibility for how developers can spend their money to make their buildings greener.

Shawn Côté, president of the Association de la construction du Québec’s Outaouais region, listens to Sylvain Bertrand, president of BBL Construction on March 3, 2020. (Lorian Belanger/CBC)

The president of the ACQ's Outaouais chapter Shawn Côté said if the city postpones the adoption of the bylaws and works with the association to modify the new rules, the organization would withdraw its appeal.

While there isn't a formal transition period, the city had indicated it's willing to be flexible in its early weeks.

Costs could be passed down

Pierre Samson, president of Gatineau's chamber of commerce, said he is concerned any added costs could be passed down to contractors and then into the bill to the tenant.

Samson said he hopes the process is slowed, even if only for a month or two, so a compromise could be found.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin is away this week, but has said the city is ready to move forward with the changes to reduce its carbon footprint.

Gatineau Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said the city is ready to move forward with the changes. (Radio-Canada)

"Gatineau's green roofs and the will to act on this issue have been known for six years," said Pedneaud-Jobin in French at Jan. 21 city council meeting when the bylaw was adopted.

"There are cities that are already doing it. For organizations that wanted to prepare, the message had been clear for years."

With files from Radio-Canada's Nathalie Tremblay

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