• Hunter Cresswell

Invalidated, violated, and exposed

Chelsea mayor sorry about single woman’s hedge, garden removal

No one should ever have to experience a Tuesday morning like Jessica Tapp did last week.


Around 7 a.m. on Sept. 14 a contractor crew informed the Farm Point woman that they needed to tear out her cedar hedge and garden to install a culvert.


“I was in my pyjamas pulling carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers out of my garden prematurely,” Tapp told The Low Down.


Jessica Tapp stands where a construction crew dug up her garden and hedge last week. Chelsea mayor Caryl Green later apologized because the work was planned to take place in 2022 and after consultation with her. Hunter Cresswell photo
Jessica Tapp stands where a construction crew dug up her garden and hedge last week. Chelsea mayor Caryl Green later apologized because the work was planned to take place in 2022 and after consultation with her. Hunter Cresswell photo

She said that she felt helpless watching her beloved hedge, which was over 26 years old, 30 feet long, nine feet tall, and three to four feet wide, torn from the ground.


“I cried, took pictures, pulled vegetables, and sat, and watched,” Tapp said.


She only was able to save a basket of veggies by the time the workers were done with the hedge and moved on to dismantling her garden bed.


Tapp said the incident left her feeling invalidated, violated, and exposed.


“It improved everyone’s view of my house. I am a single woman and my privacy being taken is huge. I’m scared,” she said, adding that people driving along Chemin de la Rivière can now see into her bedroom and hot tub on her front deck.


According to Tapp, the head of the contracting crew spoke with her on Sept. 13 about installing the culvert, which ran parallel to the road, under her hedge, and was partially on municipal right of way. He said the plan for the project was strange and that he would ask the municipality about it.


“He gave me his word that he would look into it,” she said.


But the next morning he came back for Tapp’s hedge and garden.


“The crew apologized, told me to take a photo, then threw my hedge in the back of their truck,” she said.


By Sept. 15, drivers were using the space that used to be taken up by Tapp’s hedge and garden as a point to turn around. On Sept. 20 she started building an impromptu fence using cedar branches and zip ties to stop people from driving on her property and to deter others from parking there to access the nearby community trail.


Tapp is a hairdresser and planned to start taking reservations from clients again, but she postponed that as she deals with this incident.


The kicker? It shouldn’t have gone down like that — at least not this year and not without consulting with her first.


On Sept. 15 she got a call from her former client, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green.


“It meant a lot that she reached out personally,” Tapp said.


She said that Green, who sounded sorry, stressed, and nervous, reassured her to some degree.


“I don’t want to throw her under the bus, she’s trying to make it right,” Tapp said.


During a Sept. 20 phone interview with The Low Down, Green blamed the engineering firm and contractor for making the mistake. The culvert work in front of Tapp’s home wasn’t planned for this year and should have taken place after consulting with her.


“It would seem the construction company proceeded with the work without municipal approval,” Green said.


The culvert work is part of the project to rebuild Chemin de la Rivière, but not the part of the road repair project planned for this year, Green explained. The roadway slated for repair this year is only from the Hwy 105 intersection to where the community trail crosses the road, which happens to be right in front of Tapp’s home.


“It’s very unfortunate. It’s unacceptable,” Green said.


She added that municipal staff is looking into possibly replanting a hedge for Tapp.


Tapp said that municipal staff followed-up with her to say that nothing may be done to address the situation until next year.


Tapp said that, based on her shopping around, a hedge of similar size and length can cost thousands of dollars.


“I’ll build it again. I just hope they compensate me,” Tapp added about her vegetable garden.