New Chelsea, Quebec is our new eyesore

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by Trevor Greenway on July 29, 2009

The Editor,

New Chelsea, Quebec, that ragtag remnant of once-lovely
heritage houses and survivor commerces that hung
on after being bypassed by Autoroute 5, has been
an incoherent clutter, urbanisticly, for decades.

When Jacinthe and I moved into New Chelsea (NC)
from Tenaga about 35 years ago, we were optimistic,
and felt the place had “potential” and that it was
central and accessible.  We invested  all we could in
restoring our again-white “Vermont Cape” heritage
home to rescue it from its onetime “grey garage”
stereotype.

NC is still central and accessible.  The heritage houses
around us have however gradually lost their heritage
appearance with use of ill-advised “modrun” materials
or as a result of total and utter neglect.  Now, a new
trend has taken hold: houses of all sorts are being
turned into commercial emporiums and cheap rental
properties.  Enter the beat-up fleets of hot cars on
lawns, the recycle bins left by the road all week long,
the disorderly staggle of outworn household goods
that don’t fit in the house but which “can’t” be
discarded.  This is NC’s new urban chic. NO black
doors or purple houses yet, so then is all not lost?

Groups of Chelseans committed to the village are
working to bring new “core” enterprises and facilities
to the place and hopefully reverse the decline.  The
CLSC building by Innovation Chelsea and the Anglican
Church hall are two very “sympathetic” infill buildings,
and they might even be joined by a charming Chelsea
railway station in the fullness of time.

New Chelsea can muddle on and continue the decline
or it can begin the hard road to revival. Which will it be,
I ask my fellow villagers?

Harry Gow