Chelsea Quebec rail line shunted in visioning report

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by admin on May 19, 2010

The Editor,

Recently, Vision Centre-village Chelsea, issued its draft report. Transportation is a major theme, and the report mentions more Park-n-Ride, bus and bike options for the present planning horizon. I wonder if the organizers of Vision centre-Village can explain why their report dismissed the idea of passenger rail linking Chelsea, Quebec village to Gatineau/Ottawa and to La Peche as “an idea for the future.” The potential for near-term use of the existing railway corridor through Chelsea for slow light passenger service was discussed at two large public meetings. Also at both meetings, there was discussion about running a rail trolley on Old Chelsea Road, between the planned train station and Scott Road. At both events, these rail options attracted interest and detailed discussion amongst several people, as well as some opposition. When I asked why the topic was edited out or commented on as a “future” concept, organizers of Vision centre-Village explained that since passenger rail options were not raised at all the tables of the Charrette and Forum, and were not common themes during the interview phase, they were not specifically included in the report. In support of a democratic, deliberative public process, I request that committee members and council treat politely-expressed minority recommendations with a little more generosity. The committee ought to provide an Addendum to the report to summarize and include other specific ideas put forward by residents, without the requirement for initial consensus. I expect I am not the only one whose ideas have been prematurely excluded from consideration. In light of “peak oil,”, I cannot understand how exploring for residents the use of an existing railway directly through the heart of Chelsea could be considered beyond the scope of something called “Vision centre-Village,” while use of that same infrastructure for tourists is considered to be within that scope. Recently, the Sparks Street Mall Management Board granted the Sparks Street streetcar team $10,000 to develop a pre-feasibility study for the return of a heritage streetcar to the street. And two weeks ago, the Ottawa Citizen reported on the potential development of a light-rail loop between the downtown cores of Gatineau and Ottawa. Will the envisioned Chelsea train station be for tourists only? Or will it accommodate passenger rail needs of residents and non-tourist visitors without the need for expensive redesign and retrofit later on? Planning is underway to recreate the character of Old Chelsea Road. How will residents and visitors move end to end along that corridor? Do envisioned corridor plans accommodate, diminish or pre-empt the possibility of a trolley? Joseph Potvin Chelsea, Quebec