A truck stop project divides the Val-d’Or council

A truck stop project divides the Val-d’Or council

A truck stop project divides Val-d’Or council

The site of the Groupe Mirault truck stop project, at the eastern entrance to Val-d'Or

A truck stop project at the entrance east of Val-d'Or is not unanimous at the municipal council table.

To launch his project, promoter Lucien Mirault is asking for authorization to ;build a building there with up to 60 rooms over 5 floors.

Val-d'Or's urban planning regulations had already been amended in 2021 at the request of the developer to allow 3 floors and 40 rooms for relays intended for truckers.

Sa new request did not receive the support of the Urban Planning Advisory Committee (CCU), which prompted four councilors to vote against the draft by-law on May 15. The resolution was passed, however, when the mayor broke a 4-4 tie around the table.

Benjamin Turcotte is one of the four councilors opposed to the modification of the regulation, the others being Maxime Gagné, Èveline Laverdière and Lysiane Morin. He shares the vision of the CCU which considers that the promoter's request distorts the concept of a relay for truckers.

“I am not against the project and our position was to adopt it as such, with 3 floors and 40 rooms. But at 60 rooms, it's more of a hotel than a service point for truckers. »

— Benjamin Turcotte, municipal councilor of Val-d'Or

And if that's it, it's not the same way to analyze the file, with the risks inherent in a truck stop, due to the presence of combustibles. We understand the argument of the lack of rooms in Val-d'Or, especially for tourists, but if we want a hotel to compensate for this lack, it is more appropriate closer to the city and not at the end, believes Mr. Turcotte.

Benjamin Turcotte, representative of district 1 (Lac Blouin/Downtown) on the municipal council of Val- d'Or

The councilor also fears that offering rooms outside the city will open the door to commuting (fly-in, fly-out). It's something that scares us, he says. We don't want to slow down economic development. The projects of this promoter are usually very successful. But we have to find a balance so as not to continue this mechanism of encouraging commuting.

Lucien Mirault's project is to open a multi-energy service station, combined with a truck stop. He believes that the expansion of his project is necessary to ensure its profitability.

This is the conclusion I reach after consultation with my financial and industry advisers, says the businessman. For the hotel component, it takes a minimum for profitability. We already have 20 rooms at Place Mirault and it's full. There is often a shortage of rooms in Val-d'Or. Also, we're asking for five floors to keep the maximum square footage of traffic areas. It is also more energy efficient, with the floors heating on top of each other.

Val-d'Or Mayor Céline Brindamour says for his part to be in favor of the proposed change.

“A trucker relay has its place. Yes, we have plenty of hotels that are pretty much always full. Without saying that there is a wish, there is a need for people who come to Val-d'Or for a day or two. »

— Celine Brindamour

I dare to hope that it will not affect the business clientele. I really doubt that people who come here to do business will meet at a truck stop, she adds.

Val-d'Or City Council, including Mayor Céline Brindamour, in the center

Ms. Brindamour also says she is comfortable with the displayed division on this matter at the council table.

Even if the council works well, we have different points of view on certain questions, recognizes the mayor. We do not always walk with the same ideals. I don't want to be the mayor who just manages when things are going well and hides everything. I am very comfortable with the position of advisors. I had to take a stand and I think we all respect each other in this.

Before being adopted, the draft by-law will return to the municipal council meeting on June 5 to public consultation. Lucien Mirault says he wants to wait for the end of the process before going any further, without setting a deadline for construction.

We had stopped designing the architects' plans while waiting the council's decision. We will be able to relaunch the plans by following the adopted parameters. We will also have to look at post-pandemic costs, taking into account the shortage of labor to build and operate. Making a building is easy, but the subsequent operation is quite a challenge, he emphasizes.