Hamilton Gardens project an ‘opportunity-in-waiting’
In his recently published letter, (“Time for a freeze on Wakefield development,” Low Down, Aug. 10 edition,) Nick Appleby makes a well-timed plea for a thorough rethink of municipal guidance to developers vis-à-vis their response to climate change. Well-timed in that proforma-setting designs are well underway for the new La Pêche net-zero-carbon l’hôtel de ville; a very high-profile commission for action on climate change has just stood up, and the ongoing restoration of Wakefield’s Maison Earle House is demonstrating the application of passive building technologies and ecology enriching landscapes for heritage properties.
Might I be so bold as to offer up the hitherto languishing “Hamilton Gardens” project by Devore Group of Gatineau as a reputational opportunity-in-waiting? Ten mortgage-and-rent-affordable condo-type townhouses, 24 triplex units and 12 duplex units with exterior trash-bin shelters, 58 asphalt-paved parking stalls and service roads, and very little in the way of horticulture. Back in the day of conception – Spring 2013 – tax base enrichment was a municipal goal. Today, as the Low Down is in the habit of reporting, climatized environments trump suburbanized density.
What might an architect-designed, heritage-respectful, eco-enhanced, owner-occupied “Hamilton Gardens” revamp look like? Low to the ground for easy access, especially for families with young children and downsizing seniors such as myself. Visually welcoming garden entrances, wide verandas, generous rear-deck greenery and spacious second-floor balconies that take advantage of spectacular views of the Gatineau River and the Rockhurst hill forest behind. Exterior appearances differ from another to express individuality and pride of ownership. Cozy, energy-efficient interiors that are sunny, cross-ventilated and have unobstructed views out to nature. Side-by-side and top-over-bottom plexes that are acoustically silent. Lots of shade trees and all-season “winter gardens.”
Geotechnical drilling has recently been observed on the “Hamilton Gardens” property. Is the Devcore Group getting ready to seek a building permit? Now would be the moment for La Pêche mayor Guillaume Lamoureux, councillor for Wakefield and chair of the new climate change commission Claude Giroux, and village heritage and climate change advocates to invite Devcore President Jean-Pierre Poulin to collaboratively re-strategize.