Ward 1: Meredith alive and well or dead before arrival

The Ward 1 councillor race features the rarest of beasts in Chelsea – the incumbent. Luc Poulin, seeking his second full term, is being challenged by Doug Griffin in what is shaping up as a re-referendum on the Meredith Centre.

Luc Poulin

Luc Poulin is one of only two survivors from Chelsea’s council willing to seek another four-year mandate from his Ward 1 constituents. His main purpose, he said, is to make sure the Meredith Centre goes ahead as planned.

“Every step of the way we need to make sure the program meets the need of citizens and (respects) the maximum spending put forward by citizens,” he said. “That’s the main issue.”

If reelected, he said he would see that council keeps its promise on the project’s cost.

Poulin, 46,  “totally disagrees” with those, such as his Ward 1 opponent, who suggest that the centre isn’t moving forward. He said the project is progressing cautiously, being sure to meet citizens’ needs without surpassing the budget.

Poulin, a mechanical engineer for the French Catholic school board in Ottawa, sat on committees for infrastructure, security and the centre village visioning. He said his priorities are to maintain roads and infrastructure, services residents want even if it leads to tax hikes, as well water sanitation and septic treatment.

The married father of two was first elected in a three-candidate by-election in 2004, before being acclaimed in 2005.

Doug Griffin

Doug Griffin has never run for elected office before and he’s not doing it now because he thinks it’s going to be fun. The bilingual father of two, who campaigned against the Meredith Centre last spring, has no illusions about what he’s getting himself into.

“Municipal politics is the most painful politics,” he said. “It’s just like a civil war. The closer together people are the more bitter the fight is.”

If June’s referendum on the borrowing bylaw was a civil war, though, the 53 per cent majority in favour doesn’t represent an armistice to Griffin. He maintains that, with just 47 per cent voter turnout, only about a quarter of eligible voters actively supported the bylaw.

Griffin also considers the project stalled, at best, with very little action and no borrowing since the referendum. When asked whether he would move to kill the community centre if elected to council, Griffin said he doesn’t think that will even be necessary.

“There’s nothing to undo at the moment,” he said. “The most logical conclusion is that this project is already dead.”

Griffin, a management consultant who subcontracts to companies dealing with the government, said the three most important issues in Chelsea are incompetent management, fiscal irresponsibility and council’s failure to obtain a mandate from residents, or more broadly what he considers its “isolation” from citizens.

He is critical of council’s handling of Chelsea Creek, from rezoning despite water issues – “In my opinion you can’t just invent more water by passing a motion in council” – to the mayor’s deciding vote in that referendum. He also said the council has no debt management strategy.

Griffin has lived in Chelsea since the early 1980s. He lives in Ward 6 but said he avoided that crowded three-way race to prevent Poulin’s acclamation.