Ottawa Citizen

Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau looks to more tourism in 2013,

$135-mil­lion Des­ti­na­tion Gatineau plan seeks to boost tourism on Que­bec side of river

- CHLOÉ FEDIO cfe­dio@ot­tawac­i­t­i­ twit­­dio

Marc Bureau sits at the head of a board­room ta­ble in his city hall of­fice as im­ages of the Gatineau of his dreams slide in and out on the flat screen be­hind him.

An el­e­vated walk­way through a river­side arche­o­log­i­cal site, brightly dressed cir­cus per­form­ers in a down­town park, and a large pub­lic gath­er­ing space with art, foun­tains and gar­dens to spiff up the con­crete ur­ban core.

Des­ti­na­tion Gatineau, a $135-mil­lion plan to boost tourism and recre­ation on the Que­bec side of the cap­i­tal re­gion, is one of five ma­jor projects the sec­ond-term mayor has in his sight for the year ahead.

“The goal is to cre­ate jobs and at­tract peo­ple to cross over to the Gatineau side of the Ot­tawa River,” he said. “We want to have ac­tiv­i­ties ev­ery week, so when peo­ple come to Que­bec, there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on.”

About half of the tourists who visit Ot­tawa do not cross over to Que­bec de­spite at­trac­tions such as Gatineau Park and the newly chris­tened Cana­dian Mu­seum of His­tory, he said. Bureau thinks the mas­sive makeover plan and push for more cul­tural pro­gram­ming will change that in a grow­ing and in­creas­ingly mul­ti­cul­tural city.

Gatineau’s pop­u­la­tion is more than 265,000 — a spurt of nearly 10 per cent be­tween 2006 and 2011, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est cen­sus.

Bureau is look­ing to fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, as well as pri­vate part­ners, to fund the am­bi­tious projects, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of a new li­brary, more af­ford­able hous­ing and a re­vi­tal­iza­tion of Gatineau’s down­town com­plete with a pub­lic mar­ket­place to ri­val Ot­tawa’s By­Ward Mar­ket.

Bureau said one of the great­est chal­lenges will be to se­cure fund­ing from the new Parti Québé­cois government. The five seats in the Ou­taouais re­gion have been held by Lib­er­als for decades.

“Change in government comes with a cer­tain amount of de­lays,” said Bureau. “It’s a work in progress. It’s a new government. It’s cer­tain that I have to start over from all the work I’ve done with the Lib­eral government since (I was elected as mayor) in 2005. We have to work with the government that’s been elected, and I think we just need to give it time.”

Gatineau is also look­ing to the province for a boost for the fi­nal leg of the Rapibus, a bus-only road- way for the So­ciété de Trans­port de l’Ou­taouais. The mu­nic­i­pal bud­get has al­lo­cated $8 mil­lion for the 2.7-kilo­me­tre stretch be­tween Labrosse and Lor­rain boule­vards. but the city is still ne­go­ti­at­ing with the PQ government for the re­main­ing $24 mil­lion.

Bureau is pleased that the re­vamp­ing of the waterfront por­tion of Jacques-Cartier Street along La Baie Park is set to go ahead in 2013 af­ter years of en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies. The Na­tional Cap­i­tal Com­mis­sion will split the cost of the $32-mil­lion project with the City of Gatineau. The project is in line with the goals of Des­ti­na­tion Gatineau, Bureau said.

Mean­while, Que­bec’s probe into cor­rup­tion and col­lu­sion in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, which led to the res­ig­na­tion of the may­ors of Mon­treal and Laval this fall, has not touched on Gatineau so far. Bureau does not ex­pect Gatineau to get em­broiled in any scan­dals when the com­mis­sion, led by Jus­tice France Char­bon­neau, re­sumes in Jan­uary.

All mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with pop­u­la­tions of more than 50,000 were asked by the com­mis­sion to sub­mit 15 years’ worth of pub­lic con­tracts for re­view.

“We handed all that over at the end of Au­gust,” Bureau said. “I don’t think there’s any­thing bad in there.”

When Bureau was elected, he opened up City Hall to al­low ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ings to be pub­lic, which is not a re­quire­ment in Que­bec. Meet­ings can also be streamed on the City of Gatineau web­site.

“Ev­ery­thing is pub­lic — noth­ing is in-cam­era — and I think that helps,” Bureau said.

In­terim Mon­treal Mayor Michael Ap­ple­baum an­nounced in De­cem­ber he would fol­low Gatineau’s ex­am­ple for pub­lic meet­ings in a new era of open­ness.

Bureau also sug­gested that cities are bet­ter off with­out mu­nic­i­pal po­lit­i­cal par­ties, which are com­mon in Que­bec. He has been a vo­cal op­po­nent of Ac­tion Gatineau, a mu­nic­i­pal party es­tab­lished by a group of city coun­cil­lors this past June.

“In my mind, it can be prob­lem­atic. We’ve seen it in Mon­treal and Laval — po­lit­i­cal par­ties ac­cu­mu­lated lots of money. I think it’s best that Gatineau does not have po­lit­i­cal par­ties,” he said.

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 ?? DAVID KAWAI / OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN ?? Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau feels open­ing ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ings to the pub­lic will pro­tect the city from scan­dal.
DAVID KAWAI / OT­TAWA CIT­I­ZEN Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau feels open­ing ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ings to the pub­lic will pro­tect the city from scan­dal.

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