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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

The Jain train chugs to council

Rita Jain set to ‘make a change instead of asking for it’

What was shaping up to be an interesting race to represent Farm Point on Chelsea council slowed to a crawl and, in fact, stopped.

The initial race for the Ward 5 council seat had the most candidates of any Chelsea race – four contenders – in an area that has a lot of change heading its way, with the proposed urban perimeter, development plans near two different quarries, and the controversial dock bylaw that affects almost all the docks in Farm Point and Cascades.

This week, candidate Rita Jain was elected by acclamation after the other three candidates withdrew.

Chelsea council Ward 5 candidate Rita Jain was elected by acclamation after her three opponents dropped out of the race within a week of the candidacy nomination deadline. Photo courtesy Rita Jain
Chelsea council Ward 5 candidate Rita Jain was elected by acclamation after her three opponents dropped out of the race within a week of the candidacy nomination deadline. Photo courtesy Rita Jain

The first candidate to drop out was David Stockwell, who sent an email announcing his withdrawal just four days after the deadline to apply for candidacy.

“I withdrew my nomination for councillor in Ward 5 for family medical/health reasons. I believed I could add value to our council because of my experience and commitment to Chelsea, but family must come first,” he wrote. He added that he will continue to closely monitor council activities as he has for years.

Then it was Richard McCabe who withdrew. Attempts to reach him for comment before the publishing deadline failed.

The last to drop out was Stéphanie Yung-Hing, who threw her name in the hat to promote participatory democracy with open communication, consultation, and transparency.

She explained her reasoning on Oct. 11: “It is with great regret that I have had to withdraw my candidacy for municipal councillor for Ward 5. I decided to run for council quite recently and unfortunately just learned that there would not be sufficient time to clear the review process required of federal public servants who intend to run for public office — a process I respect and one I am certain would have affirmed my ability to run for this office,” she wrote in a statement to The Low Down.

Rita Jain

Most Farm Point and Chelsea residents know Jain.

She pops up at most community events and has been a member of, or a leader of numerous local organizations, including the Friends of the Gatineau River, La Pêche Coalition for a Green New Deal, Voie Verte Chelsea, Loisirs Chelsea Nord, and the municipal Recreation, Sports, Culture, and Community Life Committee.

“Now I have an opportunity to make a change instead of asking for it,” she told The Low Down during an Oct. 11 phone interview.

She added that she’s excited to be a part of democracy at the municipal level, which she described as the closest to democracy one can get.

The last elected office she held was student body vice president in high school.

Jain said she had designs drafted up for campaign signs and pamphlets, but now doesn’t need them printed.

She already has her council priorities lined up.

When it comes to the dock bylaw, Jain said she believes it deviates from the initial intent to protect the river and provide public water access. She wants to help the road and community association docks that aren’t covered by the new bylaw and could become municipalized for larger public use.

“If people figure out how to share access to a dock, that’s a good thing,” Jain said.

Farm Point is also on the brink of a development boom. Large housing project possibilities loom over both the Morrison and Derry quarries.

“I don’t think we should blindly push development through,” Jain said.

As councillor, she said she also wants to form a new municipal committee — a climate action and environmental protection committee.

“We are in a climate crisis and I don’t see any evidence of that in current policies,” she said.

The committee would make sure that Chelsea’s environment and climate action plan is taken into account during projects big and small.

Jain said that people can contact her or on her “Rita Jain Ward/District 5 Chelsea” Facebook page.

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