Spectre of paint police burning issue with Chelsea, Quebec candle-shop operator

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by admin on October 13, 2010

The Editor,

It continues to amaze me as to the Chelsea, Quebec will go in threatening Manon Leblanc with a $1,000 fine for painting of the exterior of her secondary business building in the absence of the approval of the Site Planning and Architectural Control By-Law Committee.

From the outset this over-reactive bylaw was poorly conceived, mean-spirited and badly written. It was meant to judge, regulate and control the creative energies of entrepreneurs that design or have designed their places of business. The ultimate approval is left in the hands of a council-appointed volunteer committee.

This by-law is applicable only to the triangle of Old Chelsea Road, Scott Road and Hwy. 5. The process creates unnecessary and unreasonable delays in the execution of critical elements of marketing, curb appeal and signage. It has no ability to respond to the “time is of the essence” issue experienced daily in small business.

This is exactly why Ms. Leblanc forged ahead with the painting of this project. The committee would not meet until next week and its recommendation would not go to council until its November meeting.

How does that bureaucratic schedule fit with her recent launch of the bunkhouse cabin and the fact that this Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest of the year in the village? Not to mention the fact that the weather and temperature continue to drop daily and may not allow exterior painting in 10 days, let alone a month.

So in this council’s wisdom, businesses should sit and patiently wait while committees meet, deliberate, judge and then rule on paint colours.

Our newest pizza parlour still awaits approval for a sign that has been in the system for months. Its owner recently repainted his building the exact same colour – only to avoid dealing with this same committee and any further delays. He sacrificed redesigning and rebranding that building with his signature look because of Chelsea’s micro-managing bureaucracy.

It is totally bizarre that in our small community, someone wishing to improve his property’s appearance is harangued and treated as a lawbreaker. What is our society coming to?

Look across the road from Manon’s place to the municipal community centre and their example of property maintenance. Neglected landscaping and a wooded area filled with rubbish and debris, unpainted, faded doors, broken latticework on the building, and deteriorated roofing!

These are the decision-makers of design and property standards? They can’t even attend to their own backyard.

Bruce Langer

Chelsea, Quebec

Ed. Note: The writer is owner/operator of Bougie Doozy Candle in Old Chelsea.