• Hunter Cresswell

Over half of Larrimac lots reserved

The Larrimac housing development in Chelsea and its street now have a name, and already over half of the 31 residential lots have been reserved.

Chelsea residents Scott Robertson and his 14-year-old son Chad said they love trails, so they volunteered to help build a trail near the Larrimac housing development, now officially called the Chelsea Highlands, on Oct. 17. Over half of the lots in the development have already been reserved. Hunter Cresswell photo

Chelsea Highlands is the official name of what The Low Down has referred to as the Larrimac development. Developer Carrie Wallace said the name comes from the development being on the Larrimac Golf Club’s previously undeveloped land and golf’s Scottish heritage.

According to the most recent Chelsea Highlands newsletter in late September, 17 lots have been reserved.

On Oct. 17, amidst a final burst of fall colours in the canopy overhead and on the ground underfoot, Wallace was out with a team of volunteers building a trail running north-south to connect two existing nature trails, which are part of a network of unofficial trails that can be used to access the Carbide Willson ruins in Gatineau Park.

Chelsea residents Scott Robertson and his 14-year-old son Chad were out sweating and moving rocks along a ridge to act as underfill for the trail material that would go on top. Scott said he volunteered because they live in the area, love trails and like that this development is adding more and keeping the historical trails in place.

Jean Français has reserved a property in the development and was also out volunteering over the weekend. In between trying to convince this reporter to start mountain biking again, he explained the reason for his purchase.

“This one’s really nicely integrated into the territory,” Français said about the development.

Everyone who reserves a lot must sign a strict environmental, architectural and land-use covenant that restricts pools, fences, tree cutting and more.

“The project is really to save the max amount of trees and have it fit in the environment,” Wallace explained, in reference to the covenant and the development’s road being the first “low-volume road” in Chelsea that has reduced setbacks and ditches along each side to be narrower.

This map of Chelsea Highlands shows the lots, over half of which have already been reserved, and the existing and coming trail network in the area. Chelseahighlands.com image

“I think we’ll end up with an entire [tree] canopy over the road unless Hydro-Québec comes through and does something crazy in a few years,” she added.

Speaking of the road, it’s now named Chemin Richens.

“It’s named after Allan Richens, who I grew up with in Glen Eagle,” Wallace explained.

Richens was a trail enthusiast, Gatineau River Yacht Club founder and municipal councillor who, Wallace said, she’d run into on the trails often while ditching school to cross-country ski. She said he never told on her. Richens built trails and even named Bleakney Trail, which runs through Chelsea Highlands. He died in 2012.

The remaining lots range in price from $246,100 to $305,000.

“They’re not inexpensive properties; it has not been an inexpensive project,” Wallace said.

Financial difficulties led the Larrimac Golf Club to develop half of its 90 acres of unused property between the existing golf course and Hwy 5, with 31, one-to-three acre residential housing lots, which is less dense than the neighbouring Radipaw Ridge neighbourhood, Wallace said.

A percentage of land and home sales will go to the club in perpetuity. The other half will remain green space in perpetuity, according to both the club and Wallace.

In 2012, the club sought rezoning to turn all 90 acres of the recreation-tourist zoned land into a housing development, but that request went to a referendum and was shot down by Chelsea voters.

Opponents of this development cite the importance of trees to offset carbon emissions during the climate crisis and the fact that the current greenspace is a wildlife corridor between the Gatineau River and Gatineau Park.

Project proponents tout the club’s history and significance in Chelsea, making the club worth saving and that another, bigger, residential project could take place in Larrimac if this one goes be

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