Chelsea mayor: no connection to Gatineau
This week, Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green reiterated the municipal council’s pledge to not connect the community trail south to Gatineau.
The question came up because of a change.org petition circling around social media that calls for a multi-purpose trail going north from Gatineau to La Pêche along the old steam train rail corridor.
The petition, titled “Finalize the Gatineau-Chelsea-Wakefield community multi-purpose trail by creating the Freeman-Chelsea green corridor,” was started in early-October, and by the evening of Nov. 9 had reached 2,937 signatures out of its goal of 5,000 signatures.
“We have committed to not make a connection to Gatineau,” Green said about the community trail, which is being surfaced now.
The petition mainly calls on the Gatineau City Council to build north to connect with Chelsea, but also calls on the mayors of the three municipalities, along with local provincial and federal politicians, to act in favour of the trail connection.
“Unfortunately, Gatineau does not intend, for now, to work on this section to link it with its own multi-use pathways, as no project with this intent is included in its latest Urban Plan draft, to be approved on Oct. 22, 2020,” the English version of the petition states.
Online petitions such as these that reach their signature goals mainly serve to showcase support for a particular subject or issue; they don’t legally force local jurisdictions into action.
The Low Down has reported before that the current council doesn’t wish to connect the community trail to Gatineau. This reporter even roped Ward 1 councillor Simon Joubarne into walking through the snow to the southern terminus of the community trail just north of Chelsea Creek in 2018 to literally pose for a photo pointing to the reason Chelsea won’t build the trail any further south.
The reason it won’t go further, is the same reason the steam engine no longer chugs along the rail — a massive landslide where the train tracks cross Chelsea Creek has been identified by the municipality as too expensive to stabilise for use as a trail. The municipality is even still working on building around a much smaller landslide north of Chelsea Creek.
Despite the section over the creek being as narrow as train tracks, with a steep bank down to the creek, people do use it as a trail.
During recent council meetings, Green has stated that council intends to build the trail to the southern border of the municipality. According to a map provided by the municipality, the border runs along Chelsea Creek until it hits the rail corridor, then runs south along the rail corridor before cutting east just above the cul-de-sac of Rue Audet to Hwy 105, where it runs back north along Avenue du Pont and back up the centre of the Gatineau River.
Since her statement about building the trail to the southern border left open the interpretation that the trail could be built over the creek, The Low Down reached out on Nov. 9 for clarification. Green clearly reiterated several times that the community trail won’t go beyond the creek.
“It’s to the southern limit, but before the creek,” Green said.
She also added that, since the rail south of the creek is still within the municipality of Chelsea, Gatineau can’t build north along it even if the city wanted to.
Green said she’s spoken about connecting Chelsea and Gatineau via trail with the mayor and a councillor of a northern ward.
“We’re working on the connection from the Chelsea Creek housing development to Hautes Plaines,” she said.
That trail already stretches most of the way north – from the end of Boulevard de la Technologie parallel to Hwy 5 – and the connection through the Chelsea Creek development is being worked on now.