loader image

Expropriating soccer fields ‘simply not right’

February 28th,2024 | Letters

By Sabrina Howe

As a Chelsea resident, I am extremely proud of the engagement of all residents in community life. I am especially proud of all the amazing community spaces we have built, not by relying on municipal initiatives but by being the genesis and funders of these projects.  Chelsea citizens have built this community. 

This is why I am so appalled by the municipality’s choice of charity-owned lands (Chelsea Foundation soccer field-plus) for our new French school. This is one initiative they had to undertake, and they couldn’t manage to do it without stepping on the visionary work of Chelsea citizens just 20 years before them – work that foresaw the need to safeguard a large space in the village core as a community hub for recreational, cultural and leisure activities before development took up all the space. It is simply not right.

Add to this our current tax hike and cut to important services and I have to question why the municipality is not willing to revisit this terrible decision since the Meredith Centre soccer fields and Cargo lands are the most expensive of all the potential sites – and not by a small margin (based on MLS valuations and market value assessments). 

The municipality has responded “we had no choice,” but how can we be expected to believe this when the tender went out for the building only eight days after the municipality found out it didn’t own the soccer fields? Yes, you’re reading this right – the current municipal council (Enrico Valente exempted) all believed that the municipality was the owner of the soccer fields up until Sept. 6 and the CSSPO (school board) went out to tender on the building on Sept. 14. This means that during all the planning negotiations with the CSSPO, the municipality thought it owned the lands.

I am willing to acknowledge that there are criteria from the school board that are difficult to meet in Chelsea, but again I have to ask, how much work was really done to find a solution, when I have seen in writing a statement from a councillor who acknowledged that no cost analysis of different site options was ever conducted? In addition, no matter how difficult the criteria, the CSSPO and municipality could jointly apply to the Ministry of Education to ask for an exemption or modification of one or more of the criteria. An easy one to point out would be “current” access of the site to a municipal water system. This criteria clearly didn’t stop the building of schools in smaller rural communities, in addition to the fact that any of the alternate sites for the school are within 1.5 kilometres of the current water and sewer system, and even the Foundation soccer fields are not “currently” hooked up. 

Because we care about our community assets and about tax dollars being used appropriately, we must demand a new site for the school be found. The decision to place the new French school on the Chelsea Foundation lands is a mistake and not one council should continue to double down on.

Sabrina Howe has been a Chelsea resident for 23 years. She is a current member of Partage Chelsea Share and a former Chelsea Foundation and Soccer Chelsea board member.

Latest Headlines

News

HELLO SUMMER!

THE LOW Down is on holidays!

The office will be closed from July 10 to July 23. There will be NO EDITION published on July 17 or 24. Our next edition will be on July 31.

News

A fiery 40th

Wakefield’s treasured wooden bridge – a village icon that had spanned the Gatineau River for 69 years – was a fiery inferno. Villagers were out on their docks or scattered along the riverbank, watching the structure crack and bust apart span by span – many of them, like Garnett and her partner, Norma Walmsley, aghast as the violent flames tore through the nearly 90 metres of wood in a matter of minutes. It was precisely 40 years ago from this edition’s publication date. 

Letters

Hills peace and justice group giving us hope

The Editor, In response to Stephanie Turple’s “Upholding western values” (July 3 edition) and what the group Hills for Peace and Justice calls (H4P&J) “‘genocide and colonization’” (June 12 edition) As per the March 26, UN Human Rights Council’s reasonable...

Hard-hitting local news delivered right to your mailbox (or in your inbox!)

Support feisty, independent journalism.

 

At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

To help meet the demands of inflation and the costs of producing fact-based local news, we have introduced new pricing options. Our goal is to meet readers where they’re at, and keep our newspaper as affordable as possible.

Print + Digital Subscriptions

Digital Subscription

Support feisty, independent journalism.

 

At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

To help meet the demands of inflation and the costs of producing fact-based local news, we have introduced new pricing options. Our goal is to meet readers where they’re at, and keep our newspaper as affordable as possible.

Print + Digital Subscriptions

Digital Subscription