A wound still raw in Chelsea, Quebec


by Nikki Mantell on October 28, 2009

Chelsea, Quebec voters, you have a real decision to make.

Unlike years past when it came down to for voting for the nice guy who promised to listen and consult, and the other nice gal who promised to listen and consult, (or not voting at all because most seats were acclaimed) this election is completely issue-driven.

With 15 candidates standing up, voters have a real choice that will inevitably bring real change. Come Nov. 1  there may very well be a brand new set of elected representatives – none of whom have any previous experience.

But despite the multitude of new faces, this election can really be boiled down to one question: Do Chelseaites want to push forward or scale back?

This is no shocker. Back in July Preservation Chelsea was advertising to drum up a slate of candidates. This “slate” never appeared officially, but if we go through the seats ward by ward, it’s pretty clear there is an unofficial slate of likeminded candidates.

In general terms scaling back means curbing new spending, putting an end to tax hikes, finding ways to pay down the debt, keeping Chelsea “rural” with a general one-acre-per-house minimum. It’s a nuts-and-bolts kind of government the likes of which former mayor Judy Grant ran.

If this sounds good to Chelsea voters, Liam Fitzgerald is your mayoral candidate.

Pushing forward means continuing the general plan of the last decade under Mayor Jean Perras: continue with the plans for new infrastructure projects, continue to fund and grow the recreation and cultural programs, encourage the development of a more vibrant centre village which brings higher density housing in certain areas and possible extension of the sewer line, and pay for it all by finding new sources of revenue.

Caryl Green has been working closely with Perras, who gave her his official nod, and if voters want to keep moving forward in that direction, she’s your woman.

But the turning point for this election remains the Meredith Centre. Far from being a foregone conclusion following  a divisive and nasty referendum, this wound is not ready to heal. Judging from the questions fired from the floor at the candidates debate, letters to the editor, and the front page story this week, that wound is still open, raw and very painful.

When someone from the floor asked each candidate to state their position for the record it was a pivotal moment.

There are at least four candidates in separate seats, including that of mayoral, who are willing to stop or change the project.

The cement is not poured, heck, the architectural drawings aren’t even in.

It’s looking like this election is turning into another Meredith referendum. (Ironically, at the time we pointed out that the referendum was not to be confused with a municipal election.)

Chelseaites have a really important decision to make Nov. 1. Chelsea is at a crossroads, and your vote will shape your community for years to come. Make sure to get out to the polls, and tell your neighbours to do the same.