All’s not well for tax-paying stakeholders in Chelsea, Quebec’s water game

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by admin on October 27, 2010

The Editor,

Why did we choose Chelsea, Quebec? We chose it because it is a rare jewel, and now we need to get involved as a community to protect it from becoming just another ugly, debt-ridden suburban satellite.

We need to be aware as a community that our local government and the Ministere du Developpement Durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP) are about to allow a promoter to drill not one but two communal wells when they have full knowledge from the start that existing wells are going to be adversely affected.

These proposed wells are intended to service new commercial real estate and high-density mixed residential housing that only the promoter and the municipal government seem to want.

All those I have talked to don’t want these commercial and high-density residential projects in Chelsea. Newspaper polls and negative comments in the media seem to have had no effect on local government. They sit there before us in council meetings and tell us that they are the elected officials and that gives them the mandate to act as they see fit.

They are within their legal right, that’s true, but what has happened to open local government? Through work-related experience I have learned that it is at the local level that citizens have the greatest opportunity to influence the decision-making process. So why do we seem to be doing the opposite in Chelsea on the important groundwater issue?

To me, it says: “We (your duly elected local government) are going to take the gamble that this project will not affect your existing wells and with any luck, we will win. We are going to build a community center and with any luck, by the time we are ready to

open the doors, we will have solved the water issue.”

We, the tax-paying citizens, are being put in a game where the stakes are our homes and our wells, and we don’t want to be in the game, but that’s not up to us.

Have either the promoter or the municipality assured the current stakeholders, whose homes and wells are in the game that if things go sour the communal wells will be turned off to allow our wells to recover?

I calmly submit that this is deplorable and as a community we must tell our local government and the promoters that they absolutely must not gamble with our financial futures as represented by our homes and society’s most precious commodity: our water. The water belongs to the people of Quebec, and no one can say otherwise.

If these residential and commercial developments need water, then they can get municipal water from the river and the beneficiaries can pay for it. User Pay! No “deemed beneficiaries”. If you hook up, you pay up. Simple.

Donna Burgess

Chelsea, Quebec