The conversion of the site of the Sisters of Saint Anne in Lachine, for predominantly social and community-based residential purposes, will include the construction of a new residence for the sisters, the development of residential units in the existing main building and extension of the main building by a new wing. Residential units will be built for the sisters, others will be completed for families and the majority will be intended for people over 75 years of age or with a loss of autonomy.

It is also planned to preserve and rehabilitate the Maison du Chapelain, to transform the Chapel into a multifunctional room accessible to the public, to enlarge the parking lot along Esther-Blondin street, to create office spaces, to house some community organizations, to develop small local businesses, to build a public park on site, to develop a museum walk and to include environmental education activities.

All these elements, set out in Master and Development Plan of the site and of the Motherhouse in Lachine, call for developing a vision based on universal design, by the very nature of the project and the vision statements, the targeted citizen groups, the intended uses of the buildings and the adjacent spaces, the landscaping that will include private but also public spaces, and the urban planning that aims to improve access routes to the site, for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

To include universal design is an opportunity to make this meaningful site into a sustainable and inclusive living environment, both for residents living on site, and for all citizens attending the new accessible public spaces. We believe that this project will contribute, through its social and community orientation, to create a constructive synergy beyond the site itself and its neighborhood. All citizens should be allowed to benefit from the project whether they are local residents, or coming from the neighborhood, or from the borough…

Certainly, the proposed project includes some interventions that promote accessibility. However, these are punctual interventions, and while being in themselves very interesting, they must be linked to all the other components of the site in order to create a real network and a complete living environment. A project that is accessible to everyone in an easy, fluid, safe and equitable way, sees all of its components analyzed, planned and arranged in a continuum, without breakage in the chain of actions.

As part of this public consultation on the conversion of the site of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Anne, Société Logique encourages partners, developers and designers, as well as the borough of Lachine, to include universal design to all components of the project.

Universal design aims to integrate into the design process, all the needs of citizens, whether they are seniors, with or without loss of autonomy, families with young children, people with a temporary limitation, people with motor, visual, auditory or intellectual limitations, resulting in en environment that meets all needs at once rather than an addition of several solutions that meet individual needs. The final result, besides being functional, is also more aesthetic.

An accessibility that is successful is an accessibility that is not visible, by its integration upstream into the project at all stages, and starting from the planning stage, and by all stakeholders: then, universal design becomes a real leverage for innovation and creativity for designers and stakeholders.

In this brief, we make 6 recommendations for a successful universal design project, with a clear statement of the intended performance in accessibility that can be used as a reference in the context of preservation of built and landscape heritage sites.

To download and read the full version of the brief that we submitted to the OCPM, visit our Publications page. (French language only)

To consult the complete documentation file of the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, visit the public consultation’s page.