Meadowbrook developer suing city for $46 million

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Montreal Gazette, Mar. 24, 2017

In its $46-million lawsuit against the city of Montreal, real-estate developer Groupe Pacific charged Thursday that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its 1,600-unit project and save the Meadowbrook golf course as green space.The city engaged in “disguised expropriation” to preserve the Lachine portion of the golf course, lawyer Martin Bernard said. Groupe Pacific is requesting damages to cover the profits it would have earned had the project been approved.

Taking the stand in Quebec Superior Court near the end of the two-week trial, Bernard began his closing arguments in the two-week trial in Quebec Superior Court by outlining his client’s interactions with city and Lachine borough officials in 2007-2010.

Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, a subsidiary of Groupe Pacific, purchased the land in 2006 for $3 million.

In 2010, as protests by concerned citizens and environmental group Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook escalated, executive committee member Alan DeSousa announced the city would not support the project because the cost of installing infrastructure, like additional access roads, sewage and water systems, were excessive.

In 2013, the company discovered that the city’s estimates for putting in services like water, sewage pipes and a railway overpass to ensure access for emergency services ranged from $60 million to $150 million.

“The city of Montreal behaved in a manner that exhibited bad faith and acted contrary to the principles of balanced procedures,” Bernard argued. “It failed to work with care and diligence, to follow its own regulations, or to work transparently.”

The city’s demand that access lanes be created to the south of the project, necessitating an overpass over train lines costing as much as $125 million, were exorbitant, Groupe Pacific argued. As well, the city has since indicated its support for converting the space into a public green space, Bernard said.

In its defence, the city’s lawyers argued that Groupe Pacific purchased a piece of land bordered on three sides by train lines, with only one narrow access route cutting through the de-merged municipality of Côte-St-Luc. Installing 1,600 residences would involve extensive sewage and water-main installations, and because the city cannot force a neighbouring municipality to install additional roads, the only option was to install a costly overpass on land to the south belonging to the city. Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook has argued that all residences within the development would be within 300 metres of the Canadian Pacific switching station located alongside, in contravention of federal guidelines.

It would take the city 50 years to recoup its infrastructure investments, far longer than the maximum 10 years its financial services department considers acceptable, city lawyer Eric Couture said.

“The city of Montreal refuses for now to invest the necessary sums in this project that is not profitable for public finances,” the city wrote in its defence statement. “Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific can continue to manage the golf course which is permitted under the current zoning. … Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific is thus not the victim of a disguised expropriation.”

It added that if Groupe Pacific deemed the city was negotiating in bad faith, it could have contested that point in Superior Court, as opposed to requesting damages.

Groupe Pacific’s demand of $46 million is “clearly exaggerated,” the city said in its defence statement. City lawyers will conclude their closing arguments Friday.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

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Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

CSL digs out from biggest snowfall in years

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In Côte Saint-Luc we are very proud about how we handled snow clearing

by: Cllr. Mike Cohen

Posted: 18 Mar 2017 02:59 PM PDT

As we continue to dig out from the biggest snow storm the Montreal area has seen in years, I would like to applaud the work done by the City of Côte Saint-Luc`s Public Works Department.

CityTVsnowmarch2017

I have received a great deal of kind comments from residents in regards to how well  we  handled the snow clearing.  In fact, most of the Montreal media praised the work we did on the main roads. Please understand that this is a very difficult task and I was among the motorists on the Thursday morning stuck trying to get past the underpass on Cavendish. It was unavoidable and inconvenient, but later in the day all cleared up

“It was an emotional day for many residents,”  Public Works Director Beatrice Newman reported to city council. “Please help us help your residents understand why things appear to be a certain way while in the background, the city is working fervently to provide safe passage-ways in the city.”

The light on Guelph Road broke Thursday morning and stayed green. This meant that Westminster stayed on a red light. Traffic began to build up, employees rushed to help traffic. Public Security  directed traffic and electricians worked on determining and fixing the light. “Things like this happens when there are drastic changes in weather,” Ms. Newman said.

Cavendish Boulevard was congested, southbound. Our snow removal operations provided clear roads for our residents, but unfortunately once they hit CSL Road and Cavendish, they were faced with congestion. NDG kept their side of Cavendish at one lane. Therefore, our three lanes had to squeeze into their one lane. “Et voilà, major traffic accumulation on Cavendish and  CSL,”  Ms. Newman explained.

Fleet was at one lane from our city right through Hampstead. The objective at first is to clear the road with one lane for access. Then approximately 24 hours later, the blowing began. “We cannot start our operations earlier in the morning or traffic issues would be inevitable,” said Ms. Newman. “Only one lane would still be available in this case. We must consider the safety concerns first. This was not a regular snow storm. This was a blizzard with white out conditions, dangerous road conditions and more. We must have patience. Close to 40 centimeters fell and the process to remove it all will not be quick, we must work efficientlyand safely.”

We had five  teams working all day Thursday, five sidewalk cleaners, five loader/blowers, five 10 wheelers, five walkers and two salt trucks remained to follow the contractors as they salted the roads once the contractor blew the snow. Once snow falls on the asphalt  we secure it with abrasives.

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Our snow dump after the storm.

 

Two teams worked at the municipal buildings and one  worked on our special calls such as  snow blown accidentally on personal walkways, emptying public garbage, etc. One  employee was stationed at the snow dump on Marc Chagall in District 2, which now looks like an Olympic ski hill.

The balance of the areas around Yavne, Merton and Maimonides schools were done on Friday.

We are working hard to do our best in operations and customer service.

“In Public Security, our agents have seen their call volume go up by a factor of 2.5,” explained Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson. “Our agents have responded with professionalism and tact despite trying circumstances, horrible road conditions and lots and lots of snow. They have always kept the safety of our residents at the forefront and I have been impressed by their ingenuity and dedication.

“Our Dispatch Centre has been flooded with calls and complaints about everything from traffic to snow removal to cars blocking driveways. Despite being screamed and sworn at, they have maintained their composure and professionalism.”

Mr. Reichson noted that while  we did not activate our emergency plan, we kept it close at hand. We ensured that our evacuation routes remained as accessible as possible and were prepared to activate elements of the plan as required. “Despite what some residents have posted online, our response has been as strong and efficient as it can be,” he said. “ This was not just another storm, but rather an opportunity for our employees to shine and from what I have seen, all have risen to the occasion.

BSR Group building most CSL projects: Six years in the making, development firm going strong

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2017-02-14-free-press-parkhaven-courtyard

By Isaac Olson, Free Press, Feb. 14, 2017

Ronen Basal grew up in Côte St. Luc. He has always called it home and now he is playing a key role in developing the city as director of BSR Group – an NDG-based company located at 6138 Côte St. Luc Rd., just east of Beaconsfield Ave.

Six years ago, BSR Group went from buying real estate throughout Montreal to constructing apartment complexes and homes across the island. When property prices started shooting up, construction began.

“We started with homes,” said Basal, noting those homes went in next door to the Quartier Cavendish near the corner of Cavendish Blvd. and Kildare Rd. “And we started with townhouses at the Parkhaven Courtyard.”

The new neighbourhood along the Park Place, Jubilee Rd. and The Avenue next door to Quartier Cavendish has changed the face of the city with million-dollar homes cropping up. A large, 90-unit apartment building is currently under construction there as well. Parkhaven Courtyard is a similar story, located at the corner of Kildare Rd. and Parkhaven Ave. where the developer has built 50 townhouses with three to four bedrooms each.

These projects are just the tip of the iceberg as the company has developments in NDG, Hampstead and across the island.

“We started with three employees and now we employ over 200,” said Basal. “Very successful.”

The 90-unit apartment building on The Avenue, directly across from the Quartier Cavendish, will include an indoor pool, Shabbat elevator, 24-hour security guard, appliances, ground floor commercial and more. It will be an upper-scale apartment complex, he said, that will likely attract many older people looking to downsize from their single-family homes. This is a demographic, he explained, that no longer wants all the hassle that comes with property ownership. They are looking for something more temporary.

With senior homes closing in the area, this apartment complex could be an alternative for some, he said. While it may not have assisted living, it is in close proximity to all the services found at the mall next door, he noted. Residents won’t need a car, he said, as they get all they need in the area.

Parkhaven Courtyard will be getting a 150-unit building and construction on that will begin in April. That facility, noted Basal, won’t have a pool because it is next door to the Aquatic Community Centre.

The high-end apartments will have large family rooms, 24- hour surveillance, a Shabbat elevator and more.

“We just finished a few projects on Côte St. Luc Rd.,” he added, including one right in front of the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre. Another with 59 rental units is going up where Bernie’s Auto used to be at the corner of Montclair Ave. In fact, BSR Group’s headquarters is located in a building that it developed after the previous structure burned several years ago.

“I grew up in Côte St. Luc and lived there all my life, since the age of seven when we came from Israel. Côte St. Luc is a home for me. It’s where my synagogue is. It’s where my kids go to school. It’s where my friends are.”

Basal admits that the company heads and city politicians don’t always agree, but there is a willingness to discuss issues and find compromises.

“We have a good relationship with the city councillors and mayor, which encourages us to build,” said Basal. The company builds across Montreal, but it concentrates on Côte St. Luc because, he said, “We used to be the people in two- and three-bedroom apartments. We know the market. We know what people want and we feel, knowing the market inside out, we know the demand.”

St. Laurent Mayor DeSousa optimistic about Cavendish extension

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By: Councillor Mike Cohen

Cote Saint-Luc City Council welcomed St. Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa to City Hall recently.

DeSousa

Mayor Brownstein and Council welcome Alan DeSousa.

De Sousa served as Councillor in St. Laurent from 1990 to 2001, following which he was elected borough mayor for four consecutive terms. He also sat as a member of the City of Montreal Executive for 11 years, and served as Vice-Chair. During these years, he was responsible for finance and administration, economic development, long-term planning, hydraulic infrastructures, environment and parks, as well as for sustainable development.

In the private sector, DeSousa  served as Vice-President, Corporate Finance, at BioChem Pharma, a publicly owned Canadian company. He also worked as a corporate tax specialist in international taxation at Ernst & Young. Throughout these years, his social involvement in numerous community and charitable organizations has never ceased.

Our council often invites political colleagues to meet with us. In the case of DeSousa, we spoke about issues such as transportation and of course the extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

“Cavendish is getting to the point of political acceptance,” DeSousa commented. “Right now it seems to be going on the right track. Cavendish is on the rails. We have to keep pushing it.”

DeSousa is confident that Phase One of the long-anticipated extension will occur in 2019-20 with a connection from Royalmount to St. Laurent.

Phase Two would entail the connection from Cote Saint-Luc up to Royalmount.

Later in the same week DeSousa announced his intention to seek the Liberal nomination in the federal riding of St. Laurent- Cartierville, recently vacated by Stéphane Dion.

 

Meadowbrook case expected in court late this year

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 The ongoing legal case involving Meadowbrook Golf Course developer Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific and the City of Côte St. Luc is expected to be back at Quebec Superior Court at the end of this year, says Côte St. Luc Councillor Dida Berku.

“We are now preparing our defence and we’re in the middle of doing examinations, and the case should be inscribed by the end of the year for hearing on the merits,” Berku told The Suburban.

A separate case between the developers and the City of Montreal over the latter’s refusal to allow building on the Lachine side is expected this spring, the councillor added.

Côte St. Luc was originally sued by Meadowbrook’s developer in 2000 when the city changed the zoning of its part of the golf course site from residential to recreational and commercial. Developers have been wanting to place housing on the site, half of which is in Lachine, for more than 25 years.

The original lawsuit lay dormant for years, until Groupe Pacific changed its lawsuit to claim $32 million — $19 million of which was to force the city to basically buy the part of the land in its territory — a land swap: and $13 million for loss of profits, reduced by Quebec Superior Court from $20 million.

As we reported in 2015, “the Quebec Superior Court found that the revised case was a “new recourse” not allowed by the Code of Procedure, and did not allow the company to pursue the $19 million claim. The court also found Groupe Pacific to be the cause of the original lawsuit being in limbo for some 12 years.

Late in 2015, Groupe Pacific wanted to amend its lawsuit once again, to claim another $20 million. The developer wanted the Quebec Court of Appeal to state its opinion on the merits of such a re-amendment to the Quebec Superior Court. But the Court of Appeal ruled that it cannot decide on this in advance and that the Superior Court would have to decide if Groupe Pacific can reamend its claim. This was also Côte St. Luc’s position, Berku said at the time.

Cavendish extension moving forward: Brownstein

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Free Press | Nov. 29, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Free Press | Nov. 29, 2016 | Click to enlarge

Fire Department to the rescue at CSL vCOP meeting, Volunteers recognized for quick action

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The recent bi-monthly Patrol Meeting of Cote Saint-Luc’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol group was both educational and interesting. We welcomed guest speakers
Richard Liebman, Assistant Director of the Montreal Fire Department for Strategic and Operational Planning, as well as Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, serving the territory including Cote Saint-Luc and surrounding areas.
Rick Liebman, Assistant Director, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Rick Liebman, Assistant Director, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Rick is no stranger to CSL. He is a longtime volunteer at the Emergency Measures Organization (which became EMS) going back to the 1980s and eventually rose to serve as Director of the CSL EMS first responder service.
Rick also became a firefighter in CSL and in 2002 moved to the Montreal Fire Department as part of the forced mega-merger. Impressively, he rose in the ranks to the position of Assistant Director.
Rick and Louise described how the FD responds to 128,000 calls each year. 80,000 of these calls are first response medical calls. The FD covers first response across the Island of Montreal with the single exception of Cote Saint-Luc where the highly skilled volunteer EMS is the authorized responder.
Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

Louise Desrosiers, Division Chief, Montreal Fire Department (vCOP, Oct. 5, 2016)

What’s more, those needing assistance during an evacuation may register online on the Montreal Fire Department website. The firefighters will be advised en route to a building of such residents requiring assistance.
Liebman reminded the vCOP members, “When you change the clocks change your batteries in your smoke detectors”. Of course, with the vCOP Smoke Detector Brigade as a major community initiative the volunteer needed little reminding in this area.
Liebman congratulated our city for our sprinkler bylaw. “CSL an early leader in fire sprinklers,” the Assistant Director said. As the councillor responsible for the adoption of this bylaw, along with Councillor Ruth Kovac and supported by the late Chief of Prevention of the CSL FD, Doug Lions, in the early 90s I took great pride in this compliment.
I would be remiss in not saluting the Montreal Fire Department, Service Incendie de Montreal, for recently translating much of its website into English to benefit a great number of residents of the Agglomeration of Montreal.
With the formal presentations done the supervisors distributed 10 years pins to several members.
vCOP members receive their 10 year recognition pins, October 2016

vCOP members receive their 10 year recognition pins, October 2016

The next Recruiting Evening was announced for October 25 at 7pm at City Hall. Any one interested in joining vCOP is encouraged to attend.
With some members getting on in years it was decided to launch an Associate Member classification for vCOP. Those who have given at least a few years of service would be welcomed into the Associate program where they would no longer be required to do at least two patrol shifts each month but could offer their time in other ways as well. In this way they could continue to be active, although less often, in ensuring that vCOP remains a strong visible deterrent to criminal activity in and around CSL.
Congratulations to the most recent Patroller of the Month: David Goldsmith.
CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, Bernie and Cokkie Band and vCOP Supervisor Mitchell Herf

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, Bernie and Cokkie Band and vCOP Supervisor Mitchell Herf

Bernie and Cookie Band were recognized for putting together the statistics for the group for the last 10 years.
Volunteers Robert McDuff and Jeff Smith were recognized with a certificate of appreciation for their quick thinking and sharp eye in spotting a young woman in distress in Rabin Park. The vCOP duo kept her as alert as possible while awaiting the arrival of Public Security and EMS. Their intervention was most important in getting this woman to needed medical care and ensuring her personal safety.
The recognition certificate read:
We wish to recognize your professionalism and exemplary contributions to the vCOP program during the event last September. While on patrol, you and your partner came to the aid of a woman in need of medical assistance. Through your rapid intervention, you have made the City of Côte Saint-Luc proud and have highlighted the value that the vCOP program brings to the people of Côte Saint-Luc.
Your contributions radiate across the membership and help to portray a positive and professional image of our organization. With a core mission of helping our citizens and ensuring their safety, your actions contributed directly to the mission and for this reason, we want to demonstrate our appreciation.
McDuff and Smith represent the best that vCOP offers in delivering sharp observation and summoning the necessary emergency resources when most needed.
“Being part of helping the girl was the highlight  of my approximate 1000 hours of patrol.  I only wish I knew how she was doing,” said Smith. “Having watched people just walking by this young lady, it was our actions that helped her and it was one of the proudest moments of my life. How the city acknowledged us was more then I could have asked for.”
Congratulations to you both.
Jeff Smith and Robert McDuff are presented with a special recognition by Public Safety Chief Philip Chateauvert and Supervisor Mitchell Herf on Oct. 5, 2016

Jeff Smith and Robert McDuff are presented with a special recognition by Public Safety Chief Philip Chateauvert and Supervisor Mitchell Herf on Oct. 5, 2016

If you would like to help contribute like those dedicated volunteers mentioned above please join us on October 25.

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