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  • Trevor Greenway

Few surprises in Hills elections

If you woke up on Nov. 8 and were surprised to see the preliminary election results in the Hills, you are probably among the minority.

It’s no shocker that voters in Chelsea pencilled in two-time councillor Pierre Guénard to fill the void left by longtime outgoing mayor Caryl Green. Guénard was facing unilingual challenger Shelley Fraser, who, despite putting together a solid campaign, failed to crack 1,000 votes on Nov. 7.

Was it her absolute lack of political experience that scared voters? Or was it a language thing? Certainly, the latter was Fraser’s biggest hurdle in swaying voters. Despite Chelsea being an official bilingual municipality, voters voiced their concerns about having an English-only mayor.

But now the real work begins for Guénard, who will be tasked with a number of daunting projects centred around climate change, affordable housing, development, and the controversial Bill 96 that has many English-speaking Quebecers fearing for their rights.

Guénard has said he will ensure anyone who wishes to receive information in English will be able to do so during his mandate.

What about climate change? Guénard promised to form a climate and biodiversity committee to review bylaws and projects while engaging with local environmental groups to ensure the municipality is meeting its green goals.

Affordable housing may be the biggest challenge for any mayor in the MRC des Collines region. There are currently more than 6,300 residents over the age of 65 and just 162 private and social housing units for seniors in the area — and zero in Chelsea.