‘All we want are the facts, mayor’
There is a yet-to-be confirmed rumour that our Mayor, Caryl Green, and our councillors have postponed until late in the summer, the signing of the contract to buy 14 parcels of waterfront property from Hydro-Québec. Among other things, some of these properties were to provide public access for beaches, picnic areas, swimming and boat-launching. I agree that the middle of a pandemic is not the time to press ahead with this contract, but completing the contract should not take place until after inclusive and thorough public consultations have been carried out.
There are a number of reasons for this: the Feb. 17 information meeting on the purchase of the Hydro property was so over-crowded that many concerned residents were asked to leave; many questions at this meeting were left unanswered, such as the location of the public access points to the river, the full total purchase costs including those related to legal services, surveying costs and liability insurance, in addition to future costs of constructing docks, toilets and picnic tables at the public access points; Mayor Green had said that there would be a second meeting, which would be a public consultation meeting, and this meeting does not seem to be possible now or in the foreseeable future given the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would be perfect if we could have an inclusive and thorough public consultation in which all residents, not just those affected directly, would be able to participate. However, this does not seem possible or practical. So what about three Zoom-type meetings — one for owners in each of the three municipal wards with property adjacent to the 14 Hydro properties? My information indicates that there would be a maximum of 48 in Ward 3, 60 in Ward 4 and 52 in Ward 5. I assume not all owners would participate, so this would be quite manageable.
In the 1950s, my hero Joe Friday used to say, "All we want are the facts, ma'am". And that’s all we need now from our mayor and indeed deserve. So until we know all the facts and have a better understanding of them, I believe the council should not sign the contract with Hydro.
If you feel the same, please write to, or e-mail, the mayor and your councillor to support transparency in Chelsea.
David Stockwell Chelsea, QC