Real opportunity is seniors’ housing in Chelsea, Quebec

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by admin on November 25, 2009

The Editor,

The Elders Forum last week revealed a crisis in the Outaouais. We have less than one quarter the provincial average of seniors accommodation, and we are an aging population!

No wonder Chelsea, Quebec seniors needs have been a top priority for Chelsea citizens for so many years already.

It has been such a clear and widely accepted priority that when an incongruous housing development came up, the council that so vigorously supported it tried to justify it on the basis that it may provide accommodation for Chelsea seniors. As there was never any professional market/needs analysis carried out, we are yet to see how many Chelsea seniors can afford to or want to live in a suburban condo box in a hay field.

Perhaps if we had been given the opportunity to make a real choice between: A – Chelsea seniors needs, or B - indoor sports for an outdoor sports community, or C – safety and convenience for pedestrians, cyclists and visitors who would like to stop and patronize our local business in our two villages, or D - just lower taxes, we would not be suffering the tragic and painful division in our community today.

If we go ahead with the expenditure of $9.8 million on new community sports infrastructure - will we have the financial and human resources to respond to the real needs of our current seniors, and the many of us who will need our community’s assistance in the coming years? Given the widespread concern about increasing our collective debt, will we have the will? It will not be an insignificant challenge. The Quebec ratio of senior’s units to overall population is 25 to1000. That’s at least 40 units for Chelsea. Or, we could decide that the rural beauty, lifestyle and networks of friends we enjoy in Chelsea is only for the young and healthy.

Before we spend too much of the $9.8 million, I believe it is still not too late to make a real choice between our real priorities, and perhaps regain the spirit of Chelsea in the process. We were told the sports facility funding was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we couldn’t afford to miss, but at what cost? Perhaps the real opportunity is to deal with the seniors housing ”crisis”, or not.

Robert Chaffers

Chelsea