Vanier sugar shack plans for expansion ahead of 2022 reopening

·2 min read
The sugar shack has been out of operation since the roof collapsed in a fire in August 2020. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)
The sugar shack has been out of operation since the roof collapsed in a fire in August 2020. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)

A popular sugar shack in Ottawa that was severely damaged by a fire more than a year ago hopes to begin rebuilding within weeks.

The roof of the urban sugar shack, located in the forest behind the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre on Pères-Blancs Avenue, collapsed after the structure caught fire in late August 2020. At the time, Ottawa police said they were investigating the fire as arson.

"The sugar shack is so important in the community," said Madeleine Meilleur, executive director of the Vanier Museopark.

There is one small hurdle. The city's planning committee will meet on Nov. 8 to discuss the rebuilding plans, including removing the building from the heritage overlay so that it can expand.

Currently, buildings that fall under a heritage overlay cannot have an addition that is taller or has a different roof slope than the original building, something city staff said the sugar shack's rebuild wouldn't meet. While Richelieu Park falls under the Ontario Heritage Act, as does the nearby library and statue of Mary, the sugar shack building does not, which is why city staff are recommending it be removed from the heritage overlay.


Rideau–Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the city will help fund the rebuild so that the Sugar Shack can meet new provincial building codes.

"The accessibility requirements have increased, and there's some security measures of the future build that are important to prevent future risk of another fire at the site," he told CBC.

Fleury said the rezoning and building's expansion would not interfere with the surrounding trees in the urban forest — something that would also require a heritage permit.

Despite a few technical approvals that need to be checked off before construction can officially begin, Fleury said they shouldn't slow down the rebuild and the Sugar Shack will "absolutely open in 2022."

Christian Milette/Radio-Canada
Christian Milette/Radio-Canada

Meilleur said while insurance is covering part of the rebuild, she is also thankful the city is expected to step in to help cover some of the additional costs.

She said the hope is to re-open the sugar shack next year, although construction might not be finished in time for the annual maple syrup festival in the spring.

"We'll have to see where we're at with the COVID pandemic to see if regular programming can be offered," she said. "The good thing is we do have a really strong base of volunteers helping."

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