Promises, promises 

By David Stockwell

Charles Schultz had it right. Despite her promises, Lucy will always pull the ball away and Charlie Brown will always be on the ground on his back. 

Remember in March, 2016 when Equiluqs estimated it would cost $4,275,00 to convert the rail corridor to a trail. Many thought this was a ridiculously ‘high-ball’ estimate. Well, on Nov. 5, Chelsea council approved its Triennial Capital Expenses Program (PTI) for 2020/21/22 so now, as we wallow in Chelsea’s debt, we will know how much extra tax money is to be put aside for the next three years. Included is $1,447,700 for the ‘community’ trail which will bring the conversion cost (excluding culvert repairs and replacements) to about $4 million. Is this really the finishing line for costs or will there be another cost “oops” in 2020? Watch out, Charlie Brown.

(In this case, ‘community’ must refer to all the ‘median’ 3,000 taxpayers who will be paying $1,300 each for the bike ride. I have a hard time envisaging all those folks in Hollow Glen pedalling 30 km over the mountain and back for a Sunday morning ride between Loretta and Mill.)

Remember in December, 2015 when giving us her budget statement for 2016, the mayor stated that construction of the trail would start in 2016. Well, it was August, 2017 when deconstruction began with the removal of most of the rails, February, 2018 when the trail project was finally approved by council, and October, 2018 when there was a bit of construction for a ‘typical’ section of the trail at the northern boundary of Chelsea. So will we be out of the woods and biking as promised on the length of the trail in 2021? Or will there be another planning “oops” and Charlie Brown will be on the ground again?

Remember residents’ collective views at the March, 2018 charette (co-design) meetings about our community trail; they were: keep it local, keep it simple and rustic, and keep it narrow (2.44 metres wide). The fourth mission of council’s Trail Committee (CTC) promulgated on April 3, 2018 was also clear: to analyze the recommendations of these co-design meetings and report to council. But the width of the 2018 ‘typical’ section of the Chelsea community trail was 4.3 metres wide. So it was neither rustic nor simple. And now the width of the 2019, recently-constructed 2.4 km trail between Church and Wallace is 4 metres wide. Is this what the CTC recommended to council or is it just in Lucy’s nature, “oops”, to snatch the ball away again or has she just moved the goal posts?

David Stockwell is a resident of Chelsea.