Resident asks if approving development is ‘essential’
Earlier this month Chelsea council approved two preliminary subdivision plans and that has drawn the ire of some Chelsea residents who don’t think development should be a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 7, council approved preliminary subdivision plans for two projects, one near Quartier Meredith and another called the Dunmore project in Cascades.
“I find it shameful because I don’t think they should be concentrating on that,” Farm Point resident Rita Jain told this reporter over the phone, about council approving subdivisions during a pandemic.
Development has long been a subject of controversy in Chelsea as many residents want to preserve the municipality’s rural character. Residents have also repeatedly called for more development transparency and opportunity for consultation between the municipality, residents, and developers.
Jain contends that the municipality has much more pressing matters to focus on with the pandemic and that residents have less opportunity to weigh in on developments since people are self-isolating to slow the spread of the virus.
“Is approving development an essential service?” Jain asked.
Mayor Caryl Green said the agenda on April 7 was short 20 items because municipal department heads chose certain topics to be moved forward to be discussed and decided on at future meetings.
“Some [staff] are working at home, some are working in their separate offices, but they are moving their files forward for the municipality,” she said.
Green said that, like local businesses, the municipality is looking at a loss in revenue, usually brought in from “welcome tax” payments and permit fees, during the pandemic so the council is looking towards cutting costs and expenses where possible.
The project on Chemin Cecil near Quartier Meredith passed through the council with only Councillor Greg McGuire dissenting.
According to the resolution, the developer wants to split the one Chemin Cecil lot into two in order to build two senior residences and a daycare centre.
The Dunmore residential project in the Cascades sector aims to split four lots, at least two of which are owned by Trevor Dunlop, Matthew Smith, Christopher James Morrison, and Sandy Dunlop according to the municipal property evaluation database, by creating 13 lots along Chemin Dunmor and seven lots along a new public road.
This agenda item was passed by the majority of the council but councillors McGuire and Kimberly Chan voted against it.
This was the first time the Chelsea council met since the start of the business closures and physical distancing measures went into effect in mid-March. Like other local municipal councils, the meeting was held using an online video-conferencing service. Chelsea used Zoom to discuss “face-to-face” but at a distance. Green said it went well and that questions emailed in ahead of time were read and responded to during the meeting’s question period. Staff is working to ensure that residents will be able to tune in and ask their questions live during the coming meetings.
“If we are comfortable with the security of the platform we will let residents ask questions,” Green said.
The next meeting will also be held
over Zoom. If a live question period will be possible, notice will be sent to residents so they can participate, Green said. She added that residents can still submit questions by email at email@example.com.
Council also unanimously decided to temporarily cancel interest and penalty payments on outstanding unpaid taxes due to the pandemic until July 1.
Councillors also unanimously approved lowering the speed limit along Hwy 105 to 50 km/h near the intersection of Hwy 105 and Scott Road. The lower driving speed is in effect from Station Road to 829 Hwy 105 near the intersection with Chemins Cedar and Larouche, according to the resolution. In other business:
Council unanimously awarded a $58,349 crushed stone supply contract to Carrières Edelweiss inc.
Council unanimously awarded a $29,363 contract to Septique DD to install a wastewater treatment system at a residence near Hwy 105 south of Old Chelsea Road where the current treatment system is out of compliance with municipal code. The costs will be covered by the property owner.