Blue planet, green ideas | Gaspésie paves the way for deconstruction

How they moved from words to action

On one side, there is an old bistro, partly burnt down, which has become a pigeon nest. On the other, the crumbling buildings of a former hardware store. Buildings destined for the demolition peak. But, instead of demolishing, two municipalities in Gaspésie decided to deconstruct them through a pilot project aimed at bringing the materials back to life.

The project is now spreading across Quebec municipalities.

Gino Cyr is mayor of Grande-Rivière. The town of around 3,400 inhabitants is located southwest of Percé, near the Baie des Chaleurs. He says that stripping the doors, windows, walls and floors of the hardware store made it possible to resell materials at low prices in his community.


An employee dismantling the wooden planks of the hardware store structure

They were used to renovate chalets, renovate terraces and shelters for animals. For example, wooden beams (commonly called 2 X 4s) were resold for between $2 and $3. In department stores, they easily sell for over $10.

In Chandler, Mayor Gilles Daraiche explains that the bistro located in the heart of the municipality was in a pitiful state.


Some burned materials from the bistro were turned into bales of firewood for the citizens of Chandler.

A pigeon den. Its municipal council was preparing to launch a call for tenders to demolish it when the administration was contacted by the Régie intermunicipale de treatment des Matériaux Residues de la Gaspésie (RITMRG).

“The bistro had become a nuisance, partly contaminated. He was in danger of collapsing. To demolish, you must give a contract. A small demolition project costs at least $25,000. »

We figured it was worth a try. Especially since the land is salable and this could result in enrichment for our citizens.

Gilles Daraiche, mayor of Chandler

Exit demolition

RITMRG is the owner and operator of the recyclable materials sorting center, the composting site and the waste landfill in the towns of the Rocher-Percé MRC. The Régie wishes to reduce by 50% the tonnage sent to landfill from construction, renovation and demolition residues.


Chandler’s bistro, partially burned, had become a den of pigeons and was in danger of collapsing.

Its general director, Nathalie Drapeau, reached by telephone in her offices in Grande-Rivière, explains that she documented all stages of the experiment, which benefited from financial support of $180,000, coming among others from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. She presented her conclusions to various partners, including Recyc-Québec and the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS).

“The word demolition should disappear from our vocabulary,” she says.

Financially, we experienced a small gain of 2% with the deconstruction. But we have really won in terms of landfilling and the circular economy.

Nathalie Drapeau, general director of the RITMRG

In Grande-Rivière, the deconstruction of 3 buildings forming the old hardware store took 28 days. The roof, walls and floors had to be dismantled, piece by piece. In the end, 70% of the whole, or 135 tonnes of material destined for the landfill, was resold.


Approximately seven weeks of work were necessary to deconstruct the Chandler bistro and the Grande-Rivière hardware store.

In Chandler, some of the bistro materials were too damaged. They were made into bales of firewood. In total, despite the contamination, 155 tonnes were recovered (74%), 9 tonnes were resold (4%) and 47 tonnes transported to landfill (22%).

Success to reproduce

Foreman of the two deconstruction projects, Maxime Tardif, of the company MTF et Fils, would not hesitate to accept other contracts. It’s certain that the demolition is faster: two days, and it’s over. But the delicate deconstruction process made it possible to give work to five people for seven weeks, he explains.


A worker from the MTF et Fils company dismantles the structure of the Grande-Rivière hardware store.

“Employees sorted the materials on site. During the deconstruction of the bistro, we managed to divert walls containing asbestos from landfill. They were placed in yellow bags to be transported to specialized locations. »

Experience has shown that it is feasible. For example, ferrous metals were sorted for recycling.

Maxime Tardif, from the company MTF et Fils

Building on its success, the municipality of Grande-Rivière now has vacant land in place of the old hardware store. Mayor Gino Cyr hopes that entrepreneurs will come forward for a rental housing project.

“We own the land. There is space to build 54 units, three and a half and four and a half. We constantly talk about sustainable development, here is a good example. »

In Chandler, elected officials also have land ready to accommodate a new construction. The mayor, Gilles Daraiche, would like to see a pastry shop or creamery there. He recalls that his municipality is far from being spared by the housing crisis.

“The bistro in the heart of our downtown did not give a good image of our municipality. We would like developers to come and invest in the region. Deconstruction is enriching on all levels. »


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