• Hunter Cresswell

Chelsea launches master plan survey

Survey itself receives criticism

By Hunter Cresswell

Master plans are where the rubber hits the road in terms of the future of an area and how residents can affect that future. But residents can only have a say if they take part in the process, which is starting to take place in MRC des Collines municipalities, and some people aren’t happy with what Chelsea has done so far.

“[Master plans] gives the vision and orientation for the way we plan,” MRC des Collines Prefect and Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green said.

The last MRC Master Plan was last completed in 2005 and the Quebec government approved the 2020 plan in February, which starts the clock: each municipality has two years to bring their respective master plans in line with the MRC Master Plan and have each individual plan vetted by the MRC council of mayors.

Aerial view of Old Chelsea in 2000 facing west. In the foreground is the Old Chelsea Town Hall. The barn to the left, as well as the other nearby buildings, were part of Leo Hendrick's farm on the southwest side of Hwy 5. Across Hwy 5 is the Vincent Hendrick farm, and to the right, Chemin Old Chelsea as it goes into the Old Chelsea village. This was taken during a helicopter ride offered to the public by Edgar (Eddie) Quipp. Adrienne Herron public domain photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society

Chelsea launched an online master plan survey earlier this month on their municipal website.

Aerial view of the Old Chelsea and Scott Road intersection looking east down Old Chelsea Road taken on June 22. Housing developments such as Hendrick Farm, Chelsea Creek, Padden Lofts, and Quartier Meredith can be seen in the distance. Photo courtesy Jesse Delgrosse

“The survey is about our vision. It would have been held in person, but because of COVID we had to do it online,” Green explained. She added that over 600 people have already taken the survey.

There will be further consultation in September, she said.

But there’s already been some criticism over Chelsea’s survey.

“If you do a survey, give me a chance to to say what I think,” Chelsea resident Louis Gaetan said.

He said that the survey asks about issues that he personally opposes, but there is no way for him to express his opposition to those issues in the survey.

“It looks to me like, at the end of the day, [the municipality will] get what they want out of it,” Gaetan said.

He said that any public consultation done by the municipality must be factored into the final decision, not ignored. As an example, he brought up the community trail, which during consultation residents said they wanted it to be “hyper-local.”

“What we have — it’s a highway, that thing! Nothing at all like what was sent after the last two consultations,” Gaetan expressed.

Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment president Stephen Woodley also shared his thoughts on the survey.

“I think it’s a poorly constructed survey,” he said, adding, “ACRE will do its own survey.”

Woodley said the results of the ACRE survey would be submitted to the municipality for consideration.

Green said that she’s heard criticism about the survey from some residents and explained that the province is forcing MRCs, and therefore municipalities, to increase density in urban centres, so going against that isn’t an option.

Green said she expects Chelsea’s master plan to be ready to be sent to the MRC council of mayors for approval within the next 15 months.

The MRC Master Plan went through several approvals by the council of mayors and requests for revisions and clarifications from the Quebec government. In May 2019, the Québec ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation rejected the draft master plan that the MRC mayor’s council adopted in December, 2018. The ministry asked for more details on industrial zones in some municipalities and to add information about development projections. The 2018 draft was revised from a version the mayors passed in November 2017, which was sent to the province for approval.

Green said residents were able to weigh in on the MRC Master Plan as it was being drafted, and a lot of comments were specific to the $100 million development plan to add 425 units near Mont Cascades in Cantley.

The online master plan survey can be found at chelsea.ca/plan.

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