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Foundation expropriation disrespectful to community

March 13th,2024 | Valley Voices

The Municipality of Chelsea’s intention to build a school in the soccer fields adjacent to the Meredith Centre is misguided. The intention to find a location for the school is noble and necessary and addresses an urgent need for the community. I am certain these principles guided many of our councillors when making the decision. It fails, however, when it is done at the expense of one of the few communal spaces we have in the municipality. The Chelsea soccer fields (and accompanying parking lot) are one of the few remaining open spaces as the densification of the village continues. No one debates the need for a school based on student growth projections. Citizens will also need space to walk, play soccer and many other field sports, or simply enjoy green spaces with their families. The municipality maintains that it had no other options and that le Centre de services scolaire des Portages-de-l’Outaouais (CSSPO) would only approve this location. It is also true, though, that the municipality included other criteria for the location. One of them could have been to preserve precious communal spaces. Why was this not included as a criterion? Some of the locations considered were discarded with minimal objections. These could have been addressed or negotiated if none of the proposed locations met all the criteria.

We have a treasure at the core of the village, a space used by citizens of Chelsea to get together, to play together, and to build community. It was built by the enthusiasm and vision of a committed group of volunteer citizens. It has been maintained and improved by its users. Expropriating the lands, against the will of a charitable foundation, is disrespectful to the community that has worked hard to provide a space for the future use of all Chelsea residents. Expropriating lands that belong to the community for the use of the community creates a dangerous precedent for future communal initiatives, not only in Chelsea but across Canada. How can we fundraise for future initiatives when any council can decide to ignore the will of the community and change the purpose of the space? Expropriating these lands exposes poor planning on the part of the municipality by putting an urgent need of today over a long-term need of all our citizens. We are not only losing a parking lot and a soccer field; we are stealing the trust of the community. Please stop the steal!

Jordi Pardo Pardo is a resident of Chelsea and a Chelsea Foundation board member. 

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

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