Part of the Little St. Pierre River wends through the Meadowbrook Golf Course, appeal, sewer, bury
Creek that runs through golf course is last remnant of a river that once flowed from the western slopes of Mount Royal to Old Montreal.Channelling the Meadowbrook creek into an underground storm sewer would result in lost opportunities to rehabilitate this sector, city says in its appeal.  PHOTO JO ANN GOLDWATER / LES AMIS DE MEADOWBROOK

Montreal is appealing a ruling ordering it to bury a contaminated creek on the Meadowbrook Golf Club that is the last remnant of the St-­Pierre River.

In an appeal presented in the Quebec Court of Appeal Wednesday, the city argues that Quebec Superior Court Judge Chantal Corriveau erred in her June 7 judgment obliging it to turn the creek into a sewer within 18 months. It notes that Quebec’s Environment Quality Act calls for integrated management of wetlands and bodies of water in keeping with the principles of sustainable development and requires authorities to prevent the loss of wetlands and bodies of water.

As part of a natural drainage basin, the brook “constitutes an important asset for which upgrading work is to be implemented,” the city argues, adding that plans to rehabilitate part of the St-Pierre River are being studied and a master plan on drainage basins on the island of Montreal is underway.

Restoring the creek could be a key feature of a plan for rainwater management in an area stretching from the Blue Bonnets site at Décarie Blvd. and Jean-Talon St. to the Lachine Canal, including a possible green corridor from the Meadowbrook Golf Course to the canal, the appeal says.

“On the other hand, channelling the Meadowbrook creek into an underground storm sewer would result in lost opportunities to rehabilitate this sector, create new, green infrastructures downstream and allow an outlet for excess water that would relieve pressure on underground infrastructures,” it says.

The winding, 200-­metre creek on the 57-­hectare golf course is “the last section of the former St-Pierre River that is still in existence,” the city notes.

The golf course straddles Côte St-Luc and Montreal, but the creek flows above ground only on the Montreal side, since Côte St-Luc diverted its section into the sewer system decades ago.

Developer Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific Inc., which owns the golf course, had sued Montreal, demanding that the creek be buried, describing it as nothing more than a ditch and an open-­air sewer.

However, judge Corriveau ruled the creek is indeed a river, based on a study by the Quebec environment department confirming it is part of the former St-Pierre. Originating on Mount Royal, it flowed through present-day Snowdon, Côte St-Luc, Ville St-Pierre and St-Henri — where it fed a lake on the site of the Turcot Yards — to Old Montreal. Explorer Samuel de Champlain described the river, then teeming with fish, when he explored Montreal in 1611.

The Meadowbrook creek is fed by a storm sewer in Côte St-Luc and disappears into a combined sewer in Montreal. Repeated studies have shown it is contaminated by fecal coliform bacteria originating in crossed sewer and storm-water pipes at as many as 218 addresses in Côte St-Luc and Montreal West.

In its appeal, the city argues the solution to the contamination is not turning the creek into a sewer but rather fixing the crossed connections.

Montreal had tried unsuccessfully to have the other two municipalities named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, since the contamination originates on their territory.

It also argues that the timetable set by Corriveau is not feasible. The judge ordered the city to apply to the provincial environment department for a permit to bury the river within four months, to clean up the contamination within 18 months and to decontaminate the former riverbed and banks within 24 months. That simply isn’t enough time to get the jobs done, the city says.

Based on previous experience of correcting crossed sewer pipes in Kirkland, it would take at least two to five years to fix the crossed pipes in Côte St-Luc and Montreal West, not counting the time needed for further investigation, the city says.

It asked the appeal court for permission to present new evidence on a viable solution, on a realistic timetable, and on which contaminants are polluting the creek.

Even though Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific won the case, it is also appealing the ruling. In an appeal filed July 5, the developer asks the court to order the city to eliminate the creek whether or not the environment department gives its permission, and whether or not it is contaminated.

The appeal seeks to “modify the earlier judgment so that the order clearly forces the city to achieve a result that puts an end to any flow of water on the surface of the property of the appellant and that this obligation not be subject to any condition.”

Since the creek is fed by a storm sewer, the city should be ordered to cut off the flow of water whatever the environment department decides, the appeal argues.

In September, Quebec Superior Court Judge rejected a $44-­million lawsuit by Groupe Pacific against Montreal claiming that the city had engaged in a “disguised expropriation” to block a proposed 1,600-unit housing project on the Meadowbrook site.

Groupe Pacific was demanding $28.5 million for the value of the land, and another $15 million for lost potential profits. Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, bought the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2015, the city of Montreal designated its portion of the Meadowbrook site as “large green space or recreational,” marking a victory for conservationists who had battled for a quarter­-century to preserve the site from development.

Côte­ St-­Luc zoned its portion of the site as recreational in 2000.

mscott@postmedia.com

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