The Suburban, February 26, 2014

The more than 25-year saga of the attempted development of the Meadowbrook Golf Course took a new twist as it was revealed that a subsidiary of its latest owner, Groupe Pacific launched a $44 million lawsuit against the City of Montreal.

The city has twice rejected the developer’s plans for housing on the site, saying the infrastructure needed would be too costly. Groupe Pacific’s Suzanne Deschamps was not available for comment at press time.

In the early 1990s, other attempts were made to develop the site, but plans were shelved after much protest against development. In subsequent years, Côte St. Luc rezoned its side of the site recreational. The other side is primarily in Lachine.

Campbell Stuart, former Montreal West mayor and now spokesman for Les Amis de Meadowbrook, says the lawsuit involves transferring the Lachine part of the site to Montreal in exchange for $44 million, which would include more than $850,000 in damages. Groupe Pacific had launched a lawsuit against Côte St. Luc for $20 million when the city rezoned the site.

“We found it unacceptable for Groupe Pacific to have bought a $3 million, 57-hectare property in 2006, lobby illegally for years, trying to get the city to buy into a project and when the city refuses to throw $100 million at them as a subsidy, they turn around and sue the city for $44 million,” Stuart told The Suburban Monday. “It’s gouging. And the reason they can’t build on it was obvious when they bought it. They knew it couldn’t be developed because the Office de consultation publique de Montréal had already said ‘don’t build on it, turn it into an eco-territory’ and two years previously, the mayor of Montreal said he would protect it.”

In a previous interview, Deschamps denied she breached any codes or laws regarding lobbying.

Stuart also pointed to last year’s rail disaster in Lac Mégantic. One reason cited by activists not to develop the site is its close proximity to rail lines.

“The city mandated its urban planning department to, in unanimous resolutions of the agglomeration and city councils, put in its urban plan the 300-metre safety setbacks, which means it can’t be built on. But it could never be built on.

As well, Les Amis de Meadowbrook provided a 2012 letter from CP’s Breanne Feigel to Côte St. Luc councillor Dida Berku, saying the feasibility of a residential project on the site, in light of the proximity to rail lines, is “not compatible with our operations in the area…. CP does not support the location of any residential development directly adjacent to active rail corridors and yards.

Stuart said the lawsuit is “not just attacking the City of Montreal, they’re attacking us, the taxpayers. And we’re pleased with the city, they’re doing the right thing.”

More:

Terrain de golf Meadowbrook: 44 millions réclamés à la Ville (La Presse)

Citizen’s group decries developer’s lawsuit against city over Meadowbrook golf course (Montreal Gazette)

CBC News (Advance to 8:15)

In my opinion:

The landowners of Meadowbrook Golf Course continue on the futile path of a residential development adjacent to a major rail yard and commuter rail lines notwithstanding the horrific lessons learned by last year’s Lac Megantic disaster. The railway association reported almost twenty years ago that any such development would require explosion-proof glass and special ventilation systems.

Developing Meadowbrook as a residential development is contrary to the founding principles of this land acquisition, originally purchased by the railway for recreation and leisure by its employees long before Cote Saint-Luc homes mushroomed in the late 50s and 60s. And with the influx of tens of thousands of West End residents through the decades the need for green space for recreation, sport and leisure has only become more obvious, not to mention the need for this land mass for air purification and filtration, for separation of the polluting smokestacks of Lachine industry down the bluff,  for safe distance between rail lines and houses, for cooling the West End from Urban Heat Islands and more.

The City of Montreal shouldn’t budge from its position of refusing the development proposal, just as Cote Saint-Luc has done for many years now.

Please search “Meadowbrook’ on this blog for the complete history on this important issue.