It seems Farm Point’s planned 440-home growth spurt is a growing concern.
So much so that the Municipality of Chelsea decided to postpone a public consultation on the village’s future urban plan Feb. 23 because the chosen meeting place offered limited space.
Following complaints from residents in the area, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green said the municipality decided against holding the meeting at the Cascades Club on River Road.
“There was concern that Cascades would be limited because of the parking,” said Green.
The meeting will now be March 16 at the Farm Point Community Centre, which has been closed for repairs.
Green said it was also decided not to meet at the Meredith Centre because of its distance from the north end of the village.
Farm Point is undergoing a process for a new PPU, or special planning program. The PPU document lays out the area’s zoning bylaws and construction limits. Green has said it’s needed because the region is on the forefront of development paralleling the Hwy 5 extension work.
The Goat’s Vineyard housing and grapes-growing project is already on the table, along with a four-unit-per-acre residential development in the Farm Point quarry. A seniors housing complex is slated for a patch of land near the community centre, Charles IGA is set to expand, and a pharmacy is rumoured to be on the way.
The Farm Point plan could also see the population increase from 440 new homes housing almost 1,000 people over a 30-year period. The effect: it’s as if everyone in Wakefield village moved to the area.
Sylvie D’Aoust, the president of the Comite de Loisirs de Chelsea Nord, said that increase would overwhelm the small village.
“We’re not going to accept mass development,” she said. “We’re not going to accept four houses per acre, that’s for sure.”
D’Aoust said she has been having meetings among Farm Point villagers independent of the municipal consultation process. She calls them “pre-meetings” because they are meant to educate residents about the PPU before the municipal meeting.
“Half of our village are seniors and they don’t have Internet,” said D’Aoust.
Prior to the planned Feb. 23 meeting, a letter was sent out to Farm Point residents, asking them to register in advance by email. Some were worried this would restrict attendance, especially for those without Internet, but Green said everyone is welcome. The registration request was put in place so the municipality could plan for a rough number of tables and handouts, she said.
About 40 people had registered for the meeting Feb. 23, which is about half the attendance at a previous meeting Jan. 17. It’s not clear whether the lack of Internet scenario was the reason.
That 955-person estimate is contingent on a water and sewer system. It’s based on a housing development planned for the quarry in Farm Point.
Developer Laurent Dery has said he wants to fill in the quarry and build a four-unit-per-acre housing development, which is the maximum allowed according to MRC des Collines bylaws. But he must have a water and sewer system. It’s also the PPU’s “maximum scenario.”
The minimum, according to a PowerPoint presentation of the proposed plan on the municipal website, would be 165 homes, bringing in roughly 440 people. The houses would be laid out on one-to-two-acre lots.
The plan also includes boardwalks along the waterfront, biking lanes, parks and a revamped Saint-Clement Church area with outdoor seating to allow a view of the Gatineau River.
Green said this proposed plan is not final. She compared it to the PPU planning process for the centre village. When residents opposed to a six-to-eight-unit-per-acre housing development, Chelsea scaled it back to four units.
“It’s a draft proposal and we’re putting it out to the community,” she said. “There may be aspects of it that will change altogether.”
The public consultation will be March 16 at the Farm Point Community Centre. It will run from noon to 4 p.m.
To read more about the Farm Point PPU, visit www.chelsea.ca, go to the planning tab and click “SPP Centre-Village/SPP Farm Point.”