Public meeting fortifies Chelsea, Quebec spirit, culture and its unique sense of identity

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by admin on November 17, 2010

By Robert Chaffers

During a Nov. 15 public meeting organized by so many who care about the “public interest” of the Chelsea community, I felt comfortable in my community like I feel in my own living room filled with family and friends.

That night, I was reassured that the community that welcomed my family over three decades ago, that educated (remember Mrs. Busby?), nurtured and supported my children and gave them a very special sense of “home,” no matter where in the world they travelled and lived, has not been lost. (So what if some of us may now prefer spandex to the gumboots reportedly still the fashion in Wakefield).

That night, I was encouraged that this special place on our planet we have the privilege to call our home – that gives us such intimacy with the nature we all love, while simultaneously permitting us to earn our bread and satisfy needs that only a large urban region can do, from a “world capital” – has not yet lost its spirit, its culture and its unique sense of identity.

How often have I, and so many I know, felt discouraged and saddened in recent years and months by disparaging remarks like “what else can you expect in Chelsea” often delivered with a sophisticated snigger after some complaint about dissension and bickering or inefficiency of the municipality?

It has become progressively easier to wonder if the real spirit of Chelsea has begun to slip away under the influence of that amorphous suburbia so near south of us. Has the beast begun to sap our rural character?

Monday night, too briefly, I felt the reassurance of intelligent rationality and curiosity for the facts, friendly encouragement, positive open-minded thinking about some very worrisome issues that threaten the very character of our community.

In spite of the seriousness, there were instances of self-deprecating humour that demonstrated that the “public interest” and “private interests” can not only co-mingle but may mutually reinforce each other, when they are transparent, mutually respectful, and “self-reliance” is an underlying principle.

Perhaps we have been disheartened in recent years and months by contention and disunity in Chelsea. The public meeting Monday night demonstrated that with complete honesty, total transparency, impartial leadership and trust, people, when given the facts, know what’s best for their community.

It also reminded me that in the absence of private interests attempting to advance their hidden agendas with selective facts, partisan contention and self-righteous criticism of different opinions, we have the capacity to define and achieve with good humour and confidence the future that we want for our community, regardless of the pressures of “urban sprawl” from the south or within.

Long live Old Chelsea village, just a decade away from its third century!

Robert Chaffers is a long-time Old Chelsea resident.