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Time for Chelsea to show leadership, change ways

April 19th,2023 | Valley Voices

By Frederic Pouyot

If Chelsea does not support a more sustained effort to encourage affordable housing, a large proportion of the 30 per cent of residents, whose income is below $60,000, will likely have to move to other, local municipalities, where the costs are 60 to 80 per cent lower or more. This would result in a loss of revenue for the municipality, limiting Chelsea’s ability to continue to provide quality services.

Chelsea claims it wants to be in harmony with the environment. Why then continue to encourage the construction of individual houses, or stay limited to allowing semi-detached or townhouses of up to two floors, contributing to the destruction of the Chelsea’s environment?

The Chelsea municipality needs to allow the issuance of permits for the construction of buildings with more affordable housing and to support efforts for truly greener developments with a lower carbon footprint.

Without going to the extreme of allowing condo towers or even mid-rise buildings (four to six floors), an entirely desirable and optimal solution, from an environmental and social point of view, would be to allow the construction of townhouse-type buildings and small, three-storey, rental apartment buildings.

An energy efficient building does not need to be limited by building codes or what is commonly referred to in Quebec as low energy building, LEED, or even net-zero energy. In 2023, given the current state of solar systems, with the adequate long-term financing, it is feasible to construct new buildings that cover all their energy needs with clean renewable energy at a lower monthly price than what people typically pay for Hydro-Quebec bills. In addition, such new buildings can produce surpluses….

In the context of the climate chaos we face, buildings producing their electricity locally thanks to renewables are buildings that are resilient to power outages and much more desirable. Chelsea, needs to lead by example by installing solar systems on its own buildings….

In addition, clean energy autonomy provides a risk reduction strategy for future ice storms, tornadoes and other climatic catastrophes to be anticipated in years to come.

Finally, if we do not consider the embodied energy of building materials, we are missing more than 50 per cent of the energy and related-pollution equation. The energy required for the production and transport of building materials represents 30 to 50 years, or even more than the energy consumed in a building. Wood-framed construction also typically corresponds to the destruction of at least one acre of mature forest per home, at a time when we need more than ever to stop deforestation — this, on top of the trees cut down to clear the property.

By encouraging the use of materials such as compressed earth bricks and insulation with hemp, we can not only support the materials with the lowest embodied energy, and local resources, but also create new local jobs.

In Chelsea’s latest master plan…the results of the supply analysis showed that the average sale price was (before 2019) already $370,100 for apartments (condos). For a lot of people mortgage rates have increased by a $1,000 or so. Considering that new condos are selling for $600,000 or more, unless steps are taken, Chelsea will simply no longer be affordable.

It’s time for Chelsea to show some leadership and change their ways.

Frederic Pouyot is a cottage-owner in Chelsea who develops green real estate and transport infrastructure Gpeks (green project environment know-how systems).

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