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

The power of teamwork

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Pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Kildare Road attended to by emergency personnel (Photo courtesy CSL Public Safety)

Reporting by Jordy Reichson, Director, CSL Public Safety

We are fortunate in Cote Saint-Luc to work together as a team, along with police, fire and ambulance, all to improve the level of care that we offer our residents.

Here, EMS, Urgences-santé, the Montreal Police (SPVM) and Public Security work together to care for a woman who was hit by a car while crossing Kildare. The scene was secured while the patient was immobilised and transported to hospital.

The pedestrian appears to have been crossing when the red hand signal was illuminated and the driver did not see her until it was too late.

This should serve as a reminder to all – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – to obey the lights.

Fire destroys one apartment, home daycare next door escapes unscathed

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Fire destroyed an apartment on Kingsley Road last month (Photo courtesy CSL Public Safety)

With reporting by Jordy Reichson, Director, CSL Public Safety

At this week’s Public Council meeting we reviewed notable incidents and events occurring in the previous month. One such incident involved the Montreal Fire Department, with the support of CSL Public Safety and the Police who were on scene on Feburary 8 as a fire destroyed a two floor apartment on Kingsley.

Thankfully, no one was home at the time that the fire started, apparently in the kitchen.

Residents should remember to exercise extreme caution when cooking, especially with oil, and ensure that all cooking elements are closed, cool and clean before
leaving the kitchen.

The home daycare in the apartment next door was not damaged, nor were any other units as the fire was in the corner apartment.

Special thanks to our emergency responders, professional and volunteers alike, for their care in dealing with our residents and their property in such urgent situations.

Bilingual traffic sign petition concludes with nearly 7,000 signatures

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The petition calling on the Quebec government to install bilingual traffic safety signs, as allowed by the province’s language law, ended March 2 with close to 7,000 signatures.

According to the petition page on the National Assembly website, 6,938 people signed online, and 46 people signed a paper petition, adding up to at least 6,984 names.

There was an apparent discrepancy as late on the night of March 2, the petition page listed 6,979 signatures. We were told by MNA David Birnbaum’s office that 41 were removed because of duplicates.

The petition, which will be presented in the National Assembly March 14, was created by Hampstead lawyer Harold Staviss and Côte St. Luc Councillor Ruth Kovac, and sponsored by Birnbaum. Kovac and Staviss will be in the National Assembly as the petition will be presented.

Staviss and Kovac were pleased with the support shown for bilingual traffic signs, including electronic signs which provide safety alerts such as smog warnings, accidents on highways and other advisories.

Staviss thanked Birnbaum and his bureau chief Elisabeth Prass for their support and guidance.

“One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that safety should be more important than language,” Staviss added. “Unfortunately in the province of Quebec, the protection of the French language far outweighs everything, even safety.

“The Charter of the French Language clearly states that for reasons of health or public safety, the French inscription on traffic signs may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists,” he pointed out. “All we are asking for is what the Charter of the French language allows. Having signage dealing with health or public safety, in both French and English, is definitely not going to diminish or threaten the French language in any manner whatsoever. The time to be safer, courteous and more welcoming is now. Since Ontario has bilingual traffic signage, so should Quebec.”

Kovac said the majority Liberal government should “take a bold step and override the OQLF stranglehold on signage .

“Whereas various levels of government are also advertising in English only, inviting Americans to celebrate our different birthdays (Montreal’s and Canada’s), it makes sense that getting here be safer and clearer,” she added. “It no way diminishes the French language. It’s about time we recognize that we live in a global community. I am hopeful that MNAs from across Quebec will look at this through a 2017 lens and recognize the benefits of bilingual signage.”

“Cavendish link is not just talk anymore”: Brownstein

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Numerous meetings have been held in recent weeks regarding the long-awaited Cavendish Blvd. link between Côte St. Luc and St. Laurent, Côte St. Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told council regular Bernard Tonchin.

Tonchin and fellow council regular Irving Itman regularly ask for updates on the link.

Brownstein responded at the February council meeting that separate talks were held with St. Laurent Mayor Alan DeSousa, Quebec Transport Minister Laurent Lessard, representatives of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways, all area mayors and MNAs, and Montreal Executive Committee Chairman Pierre Desrochers.

“Everyone’s on board,” the mayor said. “All the MNAs representing the area, the Transport Minister and all of the mayors. It is moving forward — $222,000 at the last agglomeration council meeting I was at was passed to be spent on a feasibility study for the overpass [that would be part of the link].

“It’s not just talk anymore.”

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.”

Adding English would make us all safer

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Free Press, Letters, Feb. 14, 2017

As we all know, all traffic signs on Quebec highways are solely in French. When driving, do you know what «Respectez les feux de voies», «Risque d’aquaplanage», «Dégel», «Ralentir», «Allumez vos phares», «Voie cahoteuse» and «Incident voie droite bloquée» mean?

Are you aware that according to the Charter of the French Language, the French inscription on traffic signs may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists? Seeing that the aforementioned phrases have to deal with one’s safety, why are they not in English as well, as the charter clearly provides?

It absolutely makes no sense whatsoever that the protection of the French language is more important than one’s safety. Shouldn’t the safety of everyone, whether French speaking or English speaking, be of prime importance? That is precisely why Ruth Kovac and I presented a petition to the provincial legislature through our legislator David Birnbaum.

Time is running out. The deadline of March 2 to sign the petition is fast approaching.

If you have already signed the petition, we thank you. If you have not signed, please do so. However, in all instances, please make sure that you share this with your family, friends, acquaintances, neighbours and your neighbours’ friends. Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The petition can be found at: www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-6407/index.html.

Numbers do speak volumes and volumes can bring about change. The petition has nothing to do with language; it has everything to do with safety.

Ruth Kovac, Côte St. Luc

Harold Staviss, Hampstead

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