Story updated on Nov. 30.
The municipality of Chelsea has discovered that it’s too expensive to build affordable housing, protect wetlands and improve sports and recreation at the Déry Quarry in Farm Point.
While council voted in favour of purchasing the Déry Quarry from Chelsea resident Laurent Déry at a September 2022 meeting, it has now backed out of the deal because they say the land is too expensive. According to Chelsea spokesperson Maude Prud’Homme-Séguin, the conditions attached to the land purchase offer were unmet.
The promise to purchase the land was conditional on the approval of a loan bylaw by Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation, a report on the market value of the lots, a Phase 1 environmental site assessment, and a Phase 2 environmental study and a geotechnical study. However, the municipality never got to Phase 1, as the difference between the property assessment and the market value was too great.
“The difference between the assessment and the offer price could not be more than 10 per cent, as required by the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Habitation to obtain the necessary borrowing bylaw,” said Prud’homme-Séguin. “Once we received the assessment, the municipality, therefore, had to withdraw from the purchasing process.”
The MRC’s evaluation of the property in 2023 was $520,387, while a private firm hired by Chelsea assessed the 88-acre property in January at $879,000. However, the municipality offered Déry $6 million and because there is a 582 per cent difference between the private evaluation and the offer price, the municipality can’t, by law, obtain a borrowing bylaw to purchase the land. That means Mayor Pierre Guénard’s idea to “create affordable housing, increase proximity services and conserve areas with high ecological value” in Farm Point is no longer on the table.
Quarry owner Déry told the Low Down that he is now in conversations with other private companies interested in developing the land, but he remained tight-lipped about any details.
In 2016, Déry submitted a rezoning request to change the quarry from extraction to residential, which would allow for over 100 homes to be built there with a density of two lots per acre, which is twice the density of what’s currently allowed there.