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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

Old Chelsea getting coffee chain?

The first corporate fast food franchise in Old Chelsea may be coming soon.

Mayor Pierre Guénard confirmed to the Low Down that a Second Cup Café location has been proposed for 193 Ch. Old Chelsea.

According to Second Cup’s website, the franchise grew from a Toronto shopping mall coffee kiosk in 1975 to the largest Canadian café chain. It is owned by Foodtastic Inc., a corporation that owns other franchises like Milestones Grill and Bar, the Pita Pit, Shoeless Joe’s Sports Grill, and more.

The news of this proposal has been the subject of much discussion in recent weeks on the Chelsea Folks Facebook page, with people speculating about a rumoured coffee chain. For a while it was thought – incorrectly as it turns out – to be a Starbucks opening in Old Chelsea.

“I am concerned about our local businesses and the unique character of Chelsea dissipating. Not to mention the environmental impact. What’s next, McDonald’s? Walmart?” one Facebook user posted.

Others pointed out that Chelsea village already has three, family-owned cafés that people should support instead.

Guénard said that he understands peoples’ concerns, but stressed two things: at this point, the project is only a proposal and it will be operated by a local franchisee.

“In Chelsea, we want to keep our roots, our distinctive character of small, family-owned, creative businesses. That’s what makes Chelsea special,” he said.

Old Chelsea’s current urban perimeter has specialized rules governing development meant to deter fast food restaurants and big box stores. The bylaws prohibit drive-throughs and stores over a certain size, which, so far, have kept chains out of Chelsea village.

Guénard added that “more robust” bylaws could be created to deter other chains if that’s what residents want. But the proposal, which hasn’t even reached council yet, can’t be denied arbitrarily by council if it follows all the existing development bylaws.

The café is proposed to be built in the building that’s still under construction by Gatineau-based BBL Construction at 193 Ch. Old Chelsea. The 19,000-square-foot, two storey building will house six businesses on the ground floor and four condominium units on the second floor.

So far, Gatineau-based La Trappe à Fromage and Polo Vélo have confirmed that they will also open up shop in the building, which is expected to be completed before winter.

This project made headlines last year after it came under fire because of blasting which the rocky terrain required but bothered neighbours.

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