• Hunter Cresswell

Council to approve trail study

Chelsea is looking into how to make the Voie Verte Chelsea community trail whole.

The 22 kilometre trail along the former railway from the northern to southern end of the municipality is all but complete, with just two sections of unstable ground along the trail in areas of southern Chelsea that are at high risk of landslides. One is near Chemins Link and Wallace and the other is near Chemin de la Vallée.


Council unanimously awarded a $140,591 contract to SNC-Lavalin Inc. in June for a geological and engineering study near Chemins Link and Wallace. It is expected that Chelsea will add $12,790 to the

SNC-Lavalin Inc. at its upcomexisting $97,337 contract with ing meeting, which took place following the publishing deadline of this edition.


Readers may recognize that company name because the Montreal-based firm was embroiled in a widely-reported fraud and corruption scandal in 2019 in connection with nearly $48 million in payments made to Libyan government officials between 2001 and 2011.


Chelsea resident and trail project scrutinizer David Stockwell has butted heads with Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard several times over these study contracts. He told the Low Down that it doesn’t make sense to do more studies into stabilizing the trail in these sections because similar studies have been done previously that recommend against building a trail along the rail in these unstable sections.


“I don’t know what they’re going to do in [Chemin de] la Vallée, my gut feeling is they’ll put a detour around it,” Stockwell said.


During previous council meetings, Guénard has told Stockwell that the past studies were focused only on building the trail along the former railway and the newly-contracted studies have a wider scope to look at different options to complete the trail. Guénard didn’t return a request for comment on the studies before the publishing deadline.


In 2019, nearby residents refused to sign off on the municipality’s idea to create a detour of the trail around a landslide on the trail near Chemin de la Vallée through their properties.


The municipality has three options for dealing with this landslide: build a walkway over the landslide; build the trail around the landslide through one private property; or build the trail around the landslide through two private properties.


Don’t get these unstable sections confused with the big slide on the trail at the southern border of the municipality that prevents the trail from connecting to Gatineau.


The reason the trail can’t go further south right now is the same reason the steam engine no longer chugs along the rail. The municipality identified a massive landslide where the train tracks cross Chelsea Creek as too expensive to stabilise into a safe mixed-use trail. Despite the section over the creek being as narrow as train tracks with a steep bank down to the creek, walkers, cyclists, and skiers still use it as a trail.


The previous municipal council stated multiple times that it wouldn’t connect the community trail to the city of Gatineau and, in a Q&A following his election in October 2021, Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard told the Low Down that connecting the trail to Gatineau isn’t a priority.