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Chelsea should not subsidize public swim spots for visitors

February 28th,2024 | Letters

The Editor,

I am responding to the recent front-page story, “Chelsea’s $100K swim study” (Feb. 21st edition). The ongoing efforts to provide swimming opportunities for Chelsea residents in the Gatineau River are of great interest to our community. Hiring a consultant to ensure the municipality makes informed choices is commendable. However, I am concerned about the plan to replace community docks, where road residents maintained them themselves without presenting insurance risks, with docks owned and operated by the municipality. This decision not only increases expenses but also introduces liability risks. Opening these docks to the general public from other areas, such as Ottawa and Gatineau, may also lead to significant parking issues.

I suggest that Chelsea consider unique approaches, such as creating a beach/picnic area and clubhouse exclusively for Chelsea homeowners on land owned by the municipality. Residents could receive an access card after paying their taxes or a nominal fee, granting them exclusive use of the area. This way, Chelsea taxpayers would not subsidize swimming for individuals from Ottawa and Gatineau. Spending money on facilities for residents other than Chelsea homeowners and then maintaining them for everyone else seems counterproductive, especially considering Chelsea’s already significant deficit.

As a 30-year resident, I remember when Chelsea residents took pride in building their community. The Chelsea Foundation, The Meredith Centre and other co-ops, such as the Cascades Club and Larrimac Golf Course, were established by residents before I moved to the area. With some creative thinking, making the area unique for Chelsea residents, adding value for homeowners and not allowing residents of other regions to swim at docks paid for and maintained by Chelsea residents would be a significant first step in creating something special for our residents. 

I urge the municipality to explore innovative solutions that benefit residents while managing costs and liabilities effectively. It is essential to prioritize the interests of Chelsea residents only in any plans for community access to the waterfront in Chelsea.

Kensel Tracy

Burnett, QC

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