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  • The Low Down

What the dock!?

[Regarding the Chelsea dock bylaw] … The municipality of Chelsea needs to determine what distinction should be made between private properties, which hold title to waterfront, and other properties now owned by the municipality. It seems the municipality wishes to assert authority over private docks, much as it does with buildings, sheds or septic systems. To the extent the same objectives apply (e.g. safety, environment, aesthetics), it is reasonable to regulate use of waterfront land.

I assume there is no debate that the municipality of Chelsea now owns waterfront land, previously the property of Hydro-Québec. Some of this land has been, by happenstance and history, available for the private use of property owners contiguous to it, sometimes separated by the community trail. Public access to the community trail makes possible public use of the public lands owned by Chelsea. The fact that the municipality owns waterfront land does not mean that all such lands are or should be available for use by the general public. The municipality owns many properties that are for the exclusive use of the municipality and those authorized by the municipality.

It is up to the municipality to decide whether the land that it owns should be available to the taxpayers who financed purchase of the land, or more broadly to anyone who wishes to use the land. Many homeowners have enjoyed private use of those waterfront lands now owned by Chelsea.

Some argue that those homeowners have special rights over the use of those lands, due to their previous use (and perhaps maintenance) of the land. Indeed, many have already lost a degree of privacy where the rail trail passes close to their property, as the trail is now available for use by the general public. However granting those homeowners exclusive use of those waterfront lands could be considered a privilege, not a right....

Declaring all publi