By Georgina Galloway
Chelsea is at a crossroads.
I believe this election will have a profound impact on what Chelsea will look like when we look back at the legacy we leave. We will either become a suburb, or a community that steps up to the table to embrace and define our future.
During this time of change, there is a fine line between tension and vision. We must challenge ourselves, ask questions and seek innovative solutions. We must not be afraid that fact-based decisions and a right to ask questions could be challenged in courts – as threatened by some local developers. Tension is building, and this can actually be a good thing if we engage each other with respect, communication, and a view to open government.
A community is a sum of all its parts: those who participate, those who challenge, and all those who live with the results. Participating in municipal politics is not easy; is often personal; and requires resources and knowledge that can often be beyond capacity. But the impact of municipal decisions is tremendous and immediate.
I respect what each of our elected officials has taken on and I expect a lot because this place – our community – matters. We must work together to ask questions, to listen, to speak out and, in that inevitable tension, something good can happen.
We as a community will define what it is we want and how the future of Chelsea should emerge 20 years from now. This vision can include “no” when appropriate. This is not NIMBYism (not in my back yard), but an approach that, if handled well, would be a visionary, transparent planning model for other communities across Canada.
This weekend we hosted each of the three mayoral candidates and Lisa Nanni, candidate for Ward 5. The intention was a meet n’ greet so real conversations might happen. More than 30 people attended and I hope those 30 will further the conversations and questions raised on Sunday.
But my question remains: How will a new administration engage the community, establish a sustainable financial plan, and create a vision that will define, guide and protect the future of Chelsea?We have a responsibility to vote and to participate during the term of our council so each representative knows what we want.
I’m ashamed that our community is reflecting animosity, and that those who speak out are deemed dissidents.
How is it possible that we can’t hire and retain qualified senior staff? I’m ashamed that infrastructure such as the Farm Point septic is still not working (what are the semi-trailers doing there?) and that Chelsea North consultation arrived only after protest. I’m ashamed (yet impressed) that it took resident revolt, funding, research and protest signs to save the Gatineau – our most valuable resource. While I love the idea of community programming at the Meredith Centre and realize that we need to fill the space, I am ashamed of the overall cost, water and structural problems. How do we bring water for emergency sprinklers? What does a surplus mean with raised taxes and exorbitant short-term debt interest? I’m ashamed that frustrated, angry residents had to stick their neck out in order for council minutes, announcements and question periods to be better communicated.
There must be a better way.
We opened our doors this weekend in hosting each mayoral candidate and our local candidate so we could remember what community was all about and what can come of talking and listening to each other. I hope that the new administration will open their door in return.
Farm Point, QC