This is one of those times I’m sure we’re all content with our decision way back when to live in the Gatineau Hills. For me, it’s 20 years this August since I fled city life in search of something closer to nature. I’ve always found that my hikes up behind the house to the top of the Farm Point quarry leave me feeling calmer and somehow more at peace. There’s a much-loved lookout there that I constantly seek out to view our spectacular and ever-changing Gatineau River.
A couple of weeks ago the municipality of Chelsea, using excavators that had been digging around in the quarry since the winter, took down the lookout — they did so over the course of a couple of days, and with nary a word to those of us who live nearby. Now the pathway over to the edge, with its panoramic view, is completely gone.
The lookout was actually the flat top of a huge pile of rock that had been ploughed up over 30 years ago, we’re guessing, when it was an active quarry. It had fully mature trees, bushes, a fire pit lined with tree stumps and lots of rock for sure. You could picnic there — and when you looked, first one way down the Gatineau River and then up the other, you couldn’t help but think you’d found the best view in Chelsea!
We had received a notice in early March that some material would be excavated from the quarry to “complete stabilization work on two affluents of Chelsea Creek” far south of us. But before that notice, and since, we’ve watched as trucks filled with rocks and stones moved the material from one side of the quarry to the other, essentially filling it in; a job that had started a few years ago when a housing development was being discussed. They’d begun to dismantle the lookout then, and then to our great relief, stopped.
It’s a quarry for heaven’s sakes with no shortage of rocks, so why, in the time of COVID-19, would the municipality take away every last vestige of something that’s been such an intrinsic and beloved point of beauty among the residents of the area for so long? And with no warning?
As we face an uncertain future, to take this away from us during a difficult time, with no explanation, is nothing short of shameful. Another stark example of industry/development being chosen far too often by this administration over the things that really matter in this life.
Andrea Rowe is a resident of Chelsea who loves to hike, no matter what the weather.