La Peche, Quebec council rethinks Vorlage green space

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by Trevor Greenway on July 22, 2009

July 22, 2009 – Dave Saunders, owner of Ski Vorlage in Wakefield, Quebec, just might get his way after all.

Saunders was looking to expand his business in the future, but the urban plan for the Wakefield, Quebec Plan Partiulier D’Urbanisme (PPU) initially proposed that approximately 150 acres of land on the backside of his ski hill would be dedicated to green space. But after meeting with PPU committee members, La Peche councillors and La Peche Mayor Robert Bussiere, a compromise is starting to take form.

“We have met and they listened to my concerns, not only my own, but other business owners as well,” said Saunders.

“I think the municipality would want to work with Vorlage to solve the problem.”

The PPU is an urban planning document for Wakefield that proposes parks, sidewalks, infrastructure and restrictions for the village. It proposes a boardwalk and marina at the Peace Park as well as walking paths and parking solutions.july-22-poll-ppu

Although Saunders had an individual sit down with council members July 13, he still feels that more work needs to be done to solve the issue.

“I think at this point, more discussion needs to be done,” he said.

In an ideal world, Saunders would like to see the green space proposal for Vorlage land be completely taken off the PPU document, especially since there is so much green space surrounding the village.

“I can’t see any reasoning behind (the green space) because Gatineau Park has hundreds of acres on the other side of the highway.”

Saunders feels that if the PPU were to go ahead as it’s proposed, his company would lose some worth, especially since he is looking to expand the resort to cater to summer activities instead of just skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.

“They are devaluing the company,” said Saunders.

Ward 6 councillor Lynne Berthiaume said that the July 13 and July 15 individual meetings with affected business owners were a great way to bring people together to work on PPU solutions.

“They were excellent consultations,” said Berthiaume.

“We all came away saying ‘okay, let’s work together on this’.”

She added that the hot topic throughout the consultations was the proposed green space areas slated for the village, especially Saunder’s 150 acres at Vorlage. According to Berthiaume the municipality is working hard to solve the issue with Saunders and she said that something would definitely be done.

“I can assure you that there will be changes to Vorlage land,” she said.

Although things got a bit heated at the July 6 council meeting, with several Wakefield residents shouting accusations from the crowd, Berthiaume still feels optimistic that the community will eventually agree on the urban plan.

“Everybody agrees that smart growth needs a plan,” she said.

“It’s how we strike the balance of smart growth.”

Berthiaume added that another main concern from Wakefield residents regarding the PPU is the fact that too much is happening way too fast. So she extended the response period from July 31 to Aug. 14, which also pushes back the rest of the PPU process.

“Council has listened,” she said.

“We’re giving more time.”

After council receives feedback from residents, they will make changes to the document and bring it back to council in the fall, but at this point, it will still be a draft document that is subject to change. With a revised PPU on the table for early fall, Council will then hold a second round of public consultations sometime in October before the final version of the document is adopted by La Peche council. To make a comment on the PPU, respond by phone before Aug. 14 at 819-456-2161 Ext. 2250 or by email at mracine@villelapeche.qc.ca.