• Hunter Cresswell

New Chelsea village councillor calls for development ‘pause’

Ward 2 victor says council can be creative, still respect developers’ rights


Following his election on Nov. 7, new Chelsea Ward 2 councillor Dominic Labrie is sticking by his campaign proposal to “pause” new residential development in his ward.


But what would that look like? It might not be so simple, but he has some ideas.


Dominic Labrie won the race to represent Old Chelsea, Meech Lake, and New Chelsea on municipal council during the Nov. 7 election. Hunter Cresswell photo
Dominic Labrie won the race to represent Old Chelsea, Meech Lake, and New Chelsea on municipal council during the Nov. 7 election. Hunter Cresswell photo

When The Low Down caught up with him the day after the election, which he won by a margin of 27 votes, Labrie said the first thing he needs to do is discuss the issue with the newly-elected council and Mayor Pierre Guénard, who represented Chelsea’s Ward 2 – the communities of New Chelsea, Old Chelsea, and Meech Lake – for the past eight years.


“There’s many ways to do that,” he said about pausing new residential development in the centre village.


He said that Chelsea could slow the expansion of the water and sewer system or buy up lots for future municipal developments.


“We can be creative, but I want to be sure that the developers, if they have the right [to develop], will be respected,” Labrie said.


When asked about Labrie’s development pause campaign proposal, Guénard said that he wants to speak with Labrie and the rest of the council about it. But he hinted that it might not be an easy feat.


“If we pause all the development, how do we provide housing for our seniors or young residents who want to stay in Chelsea? How do we create [cooperative housing] or subsidized housing,” Guénard asked.


According to Élections Québec preliminary results, Labrie received 274 votes while his opponents, Mikhael Bourassa and Geoffrey White, received 247 and 58 respectively.


Affordable housing was something both Guénard and Labrie identified as a priority on their campaign trails.


“I’m not sure we can rely on the developers for that. We need our own solutions,” Labrie said.


During the candidates debate and forum held during his campaign, Labrie pitched cooperative housing – membership-based and member-owned housing developments – as a possible model for affordable housing in Chelsea.


“We need a solution on affordable housing. That was a huge message during the campaign. People are asking for it,” Labrie said.


But that’s not all he heard on the campaign trail.


“Old Chelsea Road, for me, is a big issue,” Labrie said.


He said he wants to see improved traffic flow and safety for pedestrians and cyclists. He said a traffic circle at the Chemin Scott intersection with Chemin Old Chelsea and implementing plans in the active transport study would solve those issues. But he said he recognizes that Chemin Old Chelsea is in the hands of the Quebec Ministère des Transports, so the municipality needs to work with the province on these fixes.