• The Low Down

Bike paths before solar panels?

Congratulations to the new Chelsea mayor and councillors. No doubt you have all been watching with concern the COP26 and what is happening in B.C. Chelsea was fortunate to receive the railway right of way and the shoreline along the Gatineau River for very little cost and it has built some nice bike paths, but really is not addressing climate change.


It was reported in an earlier version of this paper that the municipality has one of the highest per capita incomes in the province. With this in mind, I ask where is the net zero new housing? Where are the solar panels? Where are the electric charging stations at new businesses and residences? If one of the wealthiest municipalities can’t really go green, who in the province can?


With the changing climate, we must expect a lot more weather-related harm to our infrastructure and should be setting aside funds for this.


Until now Chelsea has borrowed to do what it wanted, but with interest rates expected to rise, this needs to be greatly reduced or we are mortgaging our children’s future.


We must look at cost savings.


For example, I have lived on Meech Lake Road for 38 years. You should not be planning to rebuild it because within five years it will be falling apart again. The road was built on logs, some of which are visible, and unless you plan to spend millions to go down to the lake bed and rebuild the substructure, any new surface will gradually crumble. Much of the road is in reasonably good shape. The same areas fail either because of a lack of drainage or so much water rushing off the hills. The money would be better spent on addressing those areas perhaps even with a higher quality surface that can withstand the added water.


The hills are not going anywhere, so planning needs to address those specific problem spots. The road heaves in the spring as the frost leaves at an uneven past. There will be frost every year and a lot of damage could be avoided if there was a half load designation for trucks during the spring thaw. The savings could be used to address the ongoing repairs that will always be needed because the road straddles the lake and hills and the high traffic volume.


Good luck to the new council.


Marla Bryant has been a Meech Lake Road resident in Chelsea for the past 38 years