Montreal wins Meadowbrook Golf Course battle in Supreme Court

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Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity (GJN 2015)

This is absolutely tremendous news for Cote Saint-Luc and its neighbours and for all Montrealers. For those of us who have called for Meadowbrook to be preserved as greenspace and recreational use over the last 30 years our efforts will be of benefit for generations to come.

Glenn J. Nashen

René Bruemmer  •  Montreal Gazette • May 21, 2020

The long saga of Meadowbrook Golf Course that pitted developers vs. the city of Montreal in a $44-million lawsuit has made it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and the city has won.

The Supreme Court announced Thursday it has rejected Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific Inc.’s request to appeal a judgement of the Court of Appeal of Quebec that found in favour of the city.

As with all Supreme Court rejections for a leave to appeal, no reason was given.

Last November, Quebec’s Court of Appeal upheld a 2017 judgment by a Superior Court judge that had rejected a $44-million lawsuit against the city by Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific.

In the lawsuit, the developer argued it was owed $15 million in lost profits and $28.5 million in land value in what the developer considered a disguised expropriation by the city.

Groupe Pacific bought the land in 2006 for $3 million and was in talks with the city to build what it called an environmentally friendly, 1,600-unit residential complex dubbed Petite Rivière.

But the city argued its share of infrastructure costs for things like water and sewage pipes and a railway overpass would cost between $60 million and $150 million, and told the developer in 2010 it would not support development there.

Groupe Pacific charged that the city used high infrastructure costs as an excuse to block construction of its project in order to preserve the golf course as a green space following citizen protests.

Quebec Superior Court Judge Pepita G. Capriolo disagreed.

“The large number of difficulties that the developer faced before being able to start the project (negotiations with municipalities next to the site, with the city of Montreal, with Canadian Pacific and the suburban train authority AMT, the Ministry of the Environment, etc.) does not support the conclusion that only the actions of the city kept the developer from realizing the profits it had calculated,” she wrote.

In her judgment, Capriolo ruled Groupe Pacific had failed to prove the city had acted in bad faith, and noted that the city had not appropriated the land, which an evaluator has valued at $6.5 million. Under the city’s new land development management plan, Groupe Pacific is still free to operate it as a golf course or for other recreational purposes, she wrote.

Conservationists worked for more than 25 years to persuade the city to conserve the golf course lands.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

For more articles and opinion on Meadowbrook search this blog

CSL to be ‘at table’ for Montreal-CP Cavendish link talks

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Côte St. Luc council passed a resolution at last week’s public meeting ensuring it will have a “seat at the table” in current talks between the City of Montreal and Canadian Pacific regarding the long-awaited Cavendish link between CSL and St. Laurent.

Councillor Dida Berku, who read the resolution, explained that Montreal has been negotiating with CP as to how the planned link will be “routed through the yards,” such as through an underpass, overpass, trench or tunnel.

“These discussions are ongoing, and we have been apprised of many of them, but we wanted to be part of the non-disclosure agreements, that we would be part of the negotiations,” she added. “This resolution allows us to be part of that.”

Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said CSL has a very good relationship with CP Rail, which whom he has spoken about the link on many occasions, and with Montreal.

“CP Rail was more than happy to have the City of Côte St. Luc participate in the discussions and negotiations of the exact configuration, and the manner in which our traffic and other types of traffic, like public transit, would be using the Cavendish extension,” he explained. “This file has been going on for a very long time, but it is good to be sitting at the table with all the players, making what appears to be the final decisions with respect to how the road will be built.”

The Mayor emphasized that this new development “doesn’t mean [the link is] being built any time soon — I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up —but at least we’re at the table and moving forward on the file and being informed of what is going on.”

Asked about the reference in the resolution to a non-disclosure agreement, Brownstein told The Suburban it refers to allowing CSL to be at the table for the discussions “without making them public until we all come to an agreement as to the final configuration.

“There are also issues of public transit, will there be a rapid train, a bicycle path, one lane or two lanes for cars? All of these issues have to be agreed upon with respect to CP and Montreal in order to build the road.”

The Suburban pointed out that it appears the discussions of an overpass, underpass or any other type of passage in the yards, has been going on for years.

“There’s also the purchase price — the two things that are not that easy to finalize are the price [of the part of the land Montreal will buy from CP for the passage of the link] and what type of road will go above or below the tracks. They’re really getting close, but they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on the final details,” the Mayor said.

“Now that I’m at the table with them, hopefully, it will be my job to mediate this and finalize the deal. I’ll do my best.”

Berku pointed out that the Cavendish link project also has to go to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE).

“It will be sent there by the City of Montreal sometime in 2020.”

Brownstein said the project is moving forward.

“I just don’t like people to think it’s going to happen ‘tomorrow’ — it takes a long time, people are frustrated, but it is happening now more than ever because they need it more than we need it. [The planned Royalmount Mall] needs it, the Hippodrome project needs it, the Midtown project, Décarie Square. Everyone wants some other way to travel, which has to include not only cars — public transit, bicycles, pedestrian pathways, and cars.” joel@thesuburban.com

joel@thesuburban.com

Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

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via Meadowbrook developer loses appeal of lawsuit against Montreal | Montreal Gazette

This is indeed good news in this decades long matter. The courts have recognized the actions of the City of Montreal in not allowing construction on the Lachine side to be reasonable and justifiable.

How much longer until we see Meadowbrook as a regional public park for all to enjoy?

Cavendish extension, back in the spotlight, garners mixed reviews from Côte Saint-Luc residents – Global News

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By Billy Shields Photojournalist  Global News  May 29, 2019

WATCH: There is renewed optimism that the long-awaited Cavendish Boulevard extension will finally move forward. As Global’s Billy Shields reports, the new hope is due to the controversial Royalmount development.

A recent report published by a committee studying the Royalmount development has recommended the extension of Cavendish Boulevard as well as the construction of a dedicated bus lane.

An extension to Cavendish Boulevard that would connect Côte Saint-Luc to the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent has been discussed for more than 50 years. Côte Saint-Luc residents are divided over the idea, which some point out may never happen.

“It’s just a lot of talk,” Phyllis Orloff, a woman who lives along Cavendish Boulevard, said on Wednesday. “It’s never really happened.”

Others, however, point out that the road would be a welcome artery through a city with few ways in and out. Others worry about the influx of traffic an extension might bring.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Officials have studied the extension formally on half a dozen occasions — in 1981, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 2000 — but it has never materialized.

Two freight railways — Canadian Pacific and Canadian National — own tracks that the extension would have to cross, and for a long time, neighbouring jurisdictions weren’t on board, according to Côte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein.

With the massive Royalmount project on the horizon, other jurisdictions are calling for the extension.

“They’re doing it not because of Côte Saint-Luc, they’re doing it because the cars need to go somewhere, and they can’t use Decarie (Boulevard),” Brownstein said.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Negotiations with the railroads are slated to continue for another year and a half. Brownstein said the road could be finished by 2027.

READ MORE: Cavendish Boulevard extension faces deadline

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

No way out: Recent gas leak highlights Côte Saint-Luc’s need for Cavendish Extension

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‘We definitely need another route out,’ says Mayor Mitchell Brownstein as negotiations continue

The Sept. 6 gas leak in Côte Saint-Luc caused major gridlock throughout Montreal’s west end, making it a struggle to get in and out for motorists and emergency crews alike.(Navneet Pall)

Côte Saint-Luc resident Michael Litvack woke on Sept. 6 to discover his bedside clock had stopped working at around 8:15 a.m.

It quickly became apparent he was among the more than 10,000 Hydro-Québec customers in Montreal’s west end without power after authorities shut it off due to a gas leak near the intersection of Kildare Road and Cavendish Boulevard.

As a crew repaired the broken gas pipe and nearby residences were evacuated, the Cavendish Boulevard underpass — one of just two ways out of Côte Saint-Luc — was only accessible by side streets.

The main part of Côte Saint-Luc is surrounded by train tracks and a rail yard, making the underpasses on Cavendish and Westminster Avenue the only two routes out of a suburban municipality of more than 30,000 people.

Côte Saint-Luc’s roads are generally quiet but, with one underpass partially blocked, the gas leak ignited a traffic nightmare. Gridlock around both underpasses lasted for several hours despite the Montreal fire department’s request that motorists avoid the area.

“People in my part of Côte Saint-Luc were stuck,” said Litvack, who struggled to get a blood test that day. “Businesses had to close. Schools had to close. Doctors appointments had to be rescheduled.”

Côte Saint-Luc’s Cavendish Boulevard underpass is regularly busy with motorists, trucks, buses and pedestrians as it is one of the only ways out of the city. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

It served as a stark reminder of how Côte Saint-Luc’s design leaves it vulnerable, he said.

The municipality has seen big changes in the last decade as new homes and residential buildings are added every year. Several large-scale, multi-storey apartment complexes are currently under construction and there is talk of more on the way.

“It’s going to get worse,” Litvak said. “As the cars increase and the people increase, the problems will increase.”

The Westminster Avenue underpass is one of Côte Saint-Luc’s two access points. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

There are four emergency gates that allow vehicles to drive over train tracks, but opening them requires coordination with the train companies.

The best solution, most say, would be a third exit to the north, heading to Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough and the Town of Mount Royal, but the so-called Cavendish Extension has been firmly anchored in the discussion phase for some five decades — those discussions were delayed two more years earlier this week.

Mayor says Cavendish Extension is in the works

After the gas leak, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has been reminding residents that he is working hard on bringing the Cavendish Extension to life.

“We definitely need another route out,” he told CBC News.

It is no longer a question of if, it is a question of when, said Brownstein, noting he’s made it a top priority since assuming office in 2016.

The project has been in Montreal’s capital work budget since 2015 with a completion date originally set for 2020. Currently, Montreal has $13 million earmarked for the cause and money is set aside at the provincial level as well.

While Canadian Pacific (CP) is asking for a costly tunnel under the entire rail yard, Brownstein said he, along with the other levels of government, is pushing for two underpasses under the two separate tracks just north of Cavendish Boulevard.

Rather than being an alternate to the nearby Decarie Expressway, it would be a quieter, ground-level roadway that, fitting with the neighbourhood’s character, connects Côte Saint-Luc to Mount Royal’s Royalmount Avenue and St-Laurent’s section of Cavendish Boulevard.

The indirect route would follow a to-be-built, fenced-in road through the rail yard and a small portion of private land owned by the property developer, Olymbec.

The properties owned by Olymbec are in the starred area. (Google Maps)

Montreal reserved that undeveloped land for expropriation and, on Thursday, the agglomeration council extended the reserve for another two years, to buy time for Montreal to continue its negotiations with CP.

The future of the Cavendish Extension hinges on those negotiations — negotiations that have been ongoing for a number of years.

“We just need to keep pushing to get the proper road built that isn’t a highway, but allows us a way out of our city,” said Brownstein. The renewed two-year extension on the reserved land, he added, means “everybody is on a timeline.”

A stretch of Cavendish Boulevard in Côte Saint-Luc was closed due to a Sept. 6 gas leak that created a traffic jam so bad that Montreal’s fire department struggled to access the site. (Navneet Pall/CBC)

However, Montreal also extended negotiations by another two years Tuesday and MNA David Birnbaum described that decision as “disappointing” because it green lights further delays.

“We have always said and continue to say, we will be absolutely and fundamentally involved in the development of the Cavendish Extension,” he said, describing it as not only important for the safety of residents, but also for the economy.

He said he’s called meetings between all the players involved to accelerate the process and the province has been offering support.

“We’re all ready to be a major part of this project and it’s time for it to move forward.”

For that to happen, he concluded, Montreal needs to complete negotiations with CP.

CBC reached out to CP for comment, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.

To help push the project forward, Côte Saint-Luc Coun. David Tordjman is encouraging residents to raise their own voices to the cause as, he said, the gas leak brought safety to the forefront of the discussion.

With Quebec’s general election heating up and Canada’s election just around the corner, he said, “We need more firm action from all levels of government.”

Cavendish Boulevard extension may be a pipe dream

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Global News reports that the Cavendish extension dream may fade completely in 2 years from now. After endless discussion, pronouncements and media opportunities over the last 50 years we may be down to the wire on whether this project will come to fruition.

Montreal city council passed a motion last Tuesday to extend the negotiation deadline with CN and CP Rail by two years, according to Global News.

This means city officials have 24 months to reach a deal with the rail companies to allow for the extension of the boulevard over their tracks — but no more extensions will be granted after that period.

So what’s the problem?

Cote Saint-Luc has wanted to see this plan come about since the late 1990s. It was a major promise in the merger debacle of the early 2000s. The former City of Saint-Laurent and current Borough of the same name (and same mayor) is also in favour. Local Members of the National Assembly have been on board for years as has the Member of Parliament, notably Anthony Housefather is his capacities of Borough Councillor, CSL Mayor and MP for Mount-Royal.

But Montreal and the province have been mired in construction gridlock across the Island. Resources have been prioritized elsewhere and municipal, provincial and federal funding has been allocated for years to come. Turcot will be a mess for several more years. The REM project will keep us tied up for the next 5 years too. And those are just some of the biggies.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante is no friend to motorists! And the upcoming Quebec election dust will have to settle for us to know what new priorities lie ahead.

This will not be an easy time for Mayors Brownstein and de Sousa who must get the necessary major players around the table to make things happen. The project cannot advance without the next Quebec premier and the Mayor of Montreal giving the nod of approval.

Time may be running out on this critical infrastructure plan and 50 years of dreaming may go up in smoke without concrete action, and fast.

 

Global News:  Cavendish Boulevard extension faces deadline

For more information on the history of the Cavendish extension , search this blog.

Tempo question is a hot potato

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In my words: The issue of whether to permit tempos in Cote Saint-Luc has dogged City Council for decades. Mayor Bernard Lang was always opposed, citing an unsightly neighbourhood. Early in my mandate I argued that the hardship for those homeowners without a garage (pretty much west of Leger Ave all the way to Wentworth, in District 5) required extra consideration beyond aesthetics. Council agreed and this specific exception was granted.In my years of polling residents, door by door in District 6, a significant minority spoke out in favour of these wind-flapping tarpaulin tunnels for their street. But the majority, at least 3 out of 4 homeowners, were not favourable to the idea.Times have changed, there are more cars than ever in CSL and who likes to shovel anyhow?

This issue will be a political hot-potato, pitting one resident against another. There are no easy answers and everyone is right in their own case. But the bigger question is who will be right for the entire neighbourhood?

Just asking the question is fraught with political risk. You cannot please everyone and will likely annoy many. Breaking into an unprecedented 73 zones will mean some areas will wiggle through while many more will attain the 12 requisite signatures to call for a politically-undesirable referendum.

The matter of tempos was left dormant for many years since allowing just a few, in a specific neighbourhood to break with the rule. Perhaps it should be left alone for few more years.

N

 

 

Tempo question to be put to CSLers in 73 zones

The City of Côte St. Luc will publish a notice Oct. 3 informing residents in 73 zones that they will have an opportunity to ask for a register if they oppose a proposed bylaw to generally allow temporary car shelters (tempos) in most of the territory.

Currently, tempos are allowed if a resident does not have a carport or garage. Several residents with garages were also able to have them by providing the city with a doctor’s note.

Council passed a second draft bylaw last week on tempos during the regular public meeting. In each of the 73 zones, 12 signatures would be required for there to be a register to ask for a referendum. Residents will have eight days to sign the register if they oppose allowing more tempos.

“It’s a hard one,” Mayor Mitchell Brownstein told a well-attended public consultation meeting on the issue the same night. “We know there’s a movement in certain areas of the city where people wants tempos, and certain areas where they don’t want tempos.”

“I am not, at any point, going to recommend that this council proceed with a referendum — it’s a very expensive procedure and it causes division within the community,” the Mayor added. “But if I see within the 73 zones that there are many in a particular district that got 12 signatures — and it’s not very hard to get 12 signatures — I want the council to see through this process which zones are going to be in favour or not.

“I have a feeling, in areas where the homes are more expensive, where people have two-car garages, they’re going to get the 12 signatures pretty quickly and send the message to council.”

Brownstein also said he believes that in areas with no or one-car garages, or smaller homes, the residents will be more inclined to want tempos, and not sign for a register.

During the more than half-hour public consultation, residents came out passionately for and against the proposed tempo bylaw, citing aesthetics, security (for those against) and the city’s harsh winters and senior population (for those in favour). Judging by the applause in the room, most of those attending were in favour of expanding tempo use.

“In the wintertime, utility sometimes outstrips aesthetics,” said a resident. “I support it… I will definitely solicit for tempos.”

According to the city’s website, the new rules would allow “no more than one [tempo] on an existing, conforming driveway,” they “can only be in place between Nov. 1 and April 15,” and they “must be translucent white canvas with clear windows, fitted with a dismantable tubular metallic frame.”

Brownstein later acknowledged to The Suburban that council could have some tough decisions to make area by area.

Councillor Ruth Kovac, who represents District 8, said one of her concerns is disputes between neighbours.

“They’re going to come to the city looking for us to resolve those disputes, and we’re going to be in the middle of it,” she said. “It’s one thing to legislate, and it’s another to deal with the fallout. I’m very comfortable with what we have done — give permission by exception.”

 

N

Read more:

CSL to relook at tempo policy, The Suburban 2009

Montreal appeals court order to bury Meadowbrook stream

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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

Battle heats up in Côte Saint-Luc

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The race is heating up in Côte Saint-Luc with clashing personalities battling it out for mayor.

Incumbent Mitchell Brownstein is seeking a second term.

He’s being challenged by former mayor Robert Libman who is trying to get his old job back.

 

WATCH: The former mayor of Côte Saint-Luc has decided to run for re-election, but as Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, Robert Libman is a registered lobbyist. This has incumbent Mayor Mitchell Brownstein questioning his rival’s true interests.

Global News Report

Côte Saint-Luc mayoral candidate’s vow to extend Cavendish raises possible ethical concerns

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Robert Libman plays down lobbying work for Olymbec, company that stands to profit from proposed link

By Sarah Leavitt, CBC News Posted: Oct 05, 2017 7:30 PM ET

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post.

Robert Libman was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005 and is now in the race to win back that post. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

 

 

As a mayoral candidate for Côte Saint-Luc, Robert Libman is promising to “champion the Cavendish extension,” but as a registered lobbyist, he is also representing a real estate company with land in the area of the proposed link.

That may place him in a conflict of interest if he wins the election, according to one expert, who suggests Libman could be forced to recuse himself from decisions involving the long-planned extension of Cavendish Boulevard.

Libman is an architect and an urban planner.

According to Quebec’s Order of Architects, any architect who solicits governments, for instance, seeking building permits or zoning changes, must register as a lobbyist.

Libman denies his relationship with the real estate company, Olymbec, places him in a potential conflict of interest.

Incumbent mayor Mitchell Brownstein has sought to draw the media’s attention to those ties.

Olymbec owns two plots of land on the corner of Dalton Road and Cavendish Boulevard  north of the railyard that cuts the boulevard in two.

Filings with the Quebec Registry of Lobbyists indicate Libman stands to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby municipal officials for building permits allowing Olymbec to build on the land.

Olymbec plots on reserve

In June 2016, the City of Montreal put the two vacant lots, which cover nearly 17,000 square metres, on reserve, to prevent Olymbec from developing or expanding the properties while plans to extend Cavendish Boulevard are worked out.

In October 2016, the city’s executive committee approved a resolution to negotiate with Olymbec to buy one of the lots.

“It’s not even a conflict,” Libman told CBC News. “The City of Montreal reserved land in the corridor where the Cavendish extension is going to go.”

“The fact that Olymbec happens to own the land next to it, it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve pushed for the Cavendish extension since 2002. Nothing has changed there.”

Olymbec land

The land owned by Olymbec is within the area highlighted in red, an area which will be impacted by the Cavendish extension. (Google Maps)

Michel Nadeau, the executive director of HEC and Concordia University’s Institute for Governance and Public Policy, points to the Elections and Referendums Act for regulations concerning conflicts of interest.

Section 361 reads:

Every member of the council of a municipality who is present at a sitting when a matter in which he has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest is taken up for consideration shall disclose the general nature of his interest before discussions on the matter are begun and abstain from participating in the discussions and from voting or attempting to influence the vote on that matter.

Nadeau says those rules apply within the municipality to which the official belongs, but they also apply to interests involving other municipalities.

Public governance expert Michel Nadeau says for a candidate to be fully transparent, voters must be made aware of lobbying that candidate has done for any organization.

“As a mayor, you should work full-time for the voters or the citizens of your city. To vote, to take the interest of the citizens, this interest could be in conflict with the neighbouring cities,” Nadeau said.

“You should not have any financial, legal or contractual commitments with the neighbouring cities because of business activities.”

Libman says he is aware of the rules and has been in touch with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to go over issues of conflict of interest.

“If there’s ever an issue that might be perceived as a conflict, there are rules that govern conflict of interest, and I would recuse myself in any such case.”

Lobbying ‘miniscule part of my work,’ Libman says

However, Libman downplayed his lobbying work.

“I don’t lobby at all,” he said, before adding: “That’s a minuscule part of my work.”

“I’m an architect. Because I meet with cities, because I make a request for zoning changes or building permits, I have to be on the lobbyist register, like other architects are.”

But lobbying records show that Libman has six active lobbying mandates from Olymbec, including for the properties on Cavendish.

In five of those mandates, Libman was paid less than $10,000 in each instance.

Among those is a mandate in which he was to be paid less than $10,000 to lobby Côte Saint-Luc to place rental signs in a vacant property on Westminster Street.

In the sixth mandate, Libman is to be paid between $10,000 and $50,000 for lobbying on behalf of Olymbec’s interests in a massive redevelopment project in Montreal North.

Olymbec is owned by Derek and Richard Stern. Derek Stern helped organize Libman’s 2014-2015 campaign for the Conservative nomination in the federal riding of Mount Royal.

He won the nomination but lost the 2015 election to Liberal Anthony Housefather.

Robert Libman promises

In his list of campaign promises, Libman says he’ll work to ‘ensure the completion of the Cavendish extension,’ despite what could be a conflict of interest. (Robert Libman)

Transparency concerns

Libman, who was mayor of Côte Saint-Luc between 1998 and 2005, says he signed on to the lobbyist register in 2010 with the goal of full transparency.

Much of his work as a lobbyist involves approaching different cities and boroughs in attempts to change zoning designations, to seek permission for development or demolition or to request bylaw changes.

There are no laws directed specifically at lobbyists running as candidates for elected office, but Nadeau said it’s important they be fully transparent about their work.

“The electors should know this candidate is a lobbyist for any organization,” said Nadeau.

Libman does not mention his work as a lobbyist on his campaign website.

With files from Jonathan Montpetit

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CSL candidates go at it on Global

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Côte St. Luc mayoral candidates Mitchell Brownstein and Robert Libman debated the issues last Thursday on Global TV’s Focus Montreal, hosted by Jamie Orchard.

Libman praised Côte St. Luc as an “incredible municipality.

“But I don’t believe we’ve achieved our full potential, we can do a lot better with the right leadership,” he added.

 Brownstein said that since he became mayor a year and a half ago, “I negotiated a deal with the City of Montreal whereby Côte St. Luc will be paying $4.8 million less for essential [island-wide agglomeration] services, reduced our debt by $4 million and we’re running a surplus of $1.9 million in 2016. I settled collective agreements with our three unions.”

The debate dealt with the most prominent issue in Côte St. Luc for the past 50 years — the long-awaited Cavendish Blvd. link with St. Laurent. Libman said he ended the longstanding impasse prompted by former Mayor Bernard Lang’s opposition.

“In 2000, I developed a consensus that I proposed to the Quebec Transport Ministry and the municipalities in the surrounding area were in agreement with us,” he said. “The City of Montreal created a project bureau with a $5 million budget at the time, public studies and environmental tests were prepared and ready to go for the extension to be completed in 2010, and 15 years later, it’s still not there. We need someone with an urban planning and architectural background that I have to really push this file forward.”

Brownstein said the ceding of the Hippodrome land from Quebec to Montreal last June for a housing development has a condition that the Cavendish extension “must go forward.

“It didn’t happen by itself. As soon as I was elected, I made a commitment I would push Cavendish forward, and I met with Montreal executive committee chairman Pierre Desrochers. We had a meeting with our MNA David Birnbaum, four ministers came, and all the five mayors — everyone was committed to moving it forward. I met with CP and CN for the first time together in my office. The result was that Minister Carlos Leitao announced with Mayor Denis Coderre that there will be an extension…”

“That was the biggest non-announcement,” Libman began, before both spoke over each other.

“If Robert [was going to] to move it forward, he would have been able to do it when he was on the Montreal [megacity] executive committee, but now he can’t do it at all,” Brownstein countered.

‘That’s when we announced it,” Libman responded. “The file was going to go ahead, and 15 years later it’s still sitting on the backburner.”

Brownstein then said Libman is a lobbyist for the development company Olymbec, “and there is a reserve on a piece of land owned by Olymbec that is required for the Cavendish extension. He will have to recuse himself from the whole debate!”

“This is so typical of this whole campaign,” Libman said. “All of the allegations, ridiculous comments…”

Orchard asked if the Olymbec land is under reserve, and if it is required for the extension.

“A piece of land owned by Olymbec has been reserved by the City of Montreal, but it doesn’t affect what I do…” Libman said.

“Would you have to recuse yourself from that debate?” Orchard asked.

“To be perfectly transparent, just to avoid any perceived conflict, perhaps I would, but it’s not even necessary, I’ve spoken with ministry officials about that,” Libman said.

Last week, Libman told The Suburban that while he is registered as a lobbyist, “I have no choice —every architect and urban planner that meets with city officials has to do that.”

At another debate at the Or Hahayim Synagogue Brownstein raised the issue of remerger as a “possible” threat. “The threat is not imminent,” he said, “But there have been Mayors who have told me that they’ve heard discussions of the possibility. I wouldn’t want to say more because I don’t want it to happen. I heard it at the municipal level. Certain people at the municipal level would like that to happen.” Brownstein declined to reveal further details.

Libman said Brownstein’s contention is a “scare tactic. “I have tried over and over again to bring issues to the fore that affect Côte St. Luc residents going forward regarding taxation, urban planning challenges, infrastructure and roads, transparency and creative programs for our city and he hasn’t advanced a single idea,” the candidate said. “All he does is try to spin the 15-year-old demerger tale and shy away from the real issues.”

Watch the debate here.

Cavendish underpass southbound re-opens September 15

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After more than two months of orange barrels blocking the construction zone at the Cavendish underpass a little relief is hours away as the city gets ready to reopen all lanes and the walkway in the southbound direction.

This is the first major renovation to the underpass structure since it was built over 50 years ago, when Cavendish was actually known as King George Boulevard. More than $2.7 million was spent in upgrading this critical infrastructure, much of it through provincial grants.

 

 

Work will continue on the northbound lanes and will completed soon. Thanks to the presence of a flagman the traffic flow has been improved in the construction zone with few delays reported. Safety has been increased as well.

Pedestrian safety was a major priority and I would like to thank our incredible volunteers from vCOP – Citizens on Patrol – for heeding my call to be present at Fleet and Cavendish during the morning rush hour and afternoons when school children are on their way home.

New walkway gets finishing touches for re-opening this week at the Cavendish underpass

Berku slams STM response to bus stop request

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Launch of the 262 Golden Shuttle in CSL, Oct. 2010. L-R: Charles Senekal, Manager, CSL Engineering, Beverly Akerman, Past President, CSL Senior Social Centre, Sidney Margles, President, CSL Senior Mens Club, Cllr. Michel Labreque, President, MTC/STM, Cllr. Dida Berku, Cllr. Allan Levine, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, Tanya Abramovitch, CSL City Manager

Côte St. Luc Councillor Dida Berku criticized the Montreal bus authority for declining to add an additional bus stop on the 262 Or (golden) shuttle, which travels from Côte St. Luc’s Mackle Road to Carrefour Angrignon in LaSalle.

Seniors generally use the shuttle.

Berku said residents of St. Patrick Square, in her district, started a petition to get an extra stop, near the Wal-Mart store in a power mall area across the street from Carrefour Angrignon. The shuttle also goes to Quartier Cavendish, the Côte St. Luc Shopping Centre and the commercial area of Montreal West.

“The residents sent the petition, Charles Senekal from our Engineering Department has been talking with the STM for a couple of years on this subject, simply to add the one bus stop,” Berku explained. “The bus driver understood this. It’s far for the residents to walk from Angrignon to Wal-Mart, and back.”

Golden Shuttle 262

 

The STM responded last month that the authority is reflecting on the issue, and cannot add the one stop at this point.

“They will advise us when they do further studies,” the councillor said. “I want to publicly denounce the STM for what I consider to be an extremely bureaucratic and very narrow approach to the problem, as we’re trying very hard to just provide good service to our seniors.

“Extending the 262 by one stop would not be such a great demand. We will continue to lobby the STM and do everything possible to get this extra stop.”

CP negative on CSL yards residential development

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Canadian Pacific responded negatively to a study released by students from McGill’s School of Urban Planning on the potential for a residential development in the Canadian Pacific railyards in Côte St. Luc, should CP ever vacate the land.

That land is where a Cavendish Blvd link would partially be located. The study was commissioned by the Coalition for the Relocation of St. Luc Rail Yards, among whose members is Côte St. Luc mayoral candidate Robert Libman. The feasibility report was presented to Côte St. Luc council, who forwarded it to CP.

During the August council meeting, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein made public a letter to him by Tony Marquis, CP’s senior vice-president, Operations East Region.

Marquis wrote that the St. Luc Yard in Côte St. Luc is a “critical component” of its rail network.

“The McGill student report… is not a feasibility study on a proposed relocation of CP’s St. Luc Yard, but rather a study of a possible alternative urban plan for the land presently occupied by the yard,” Marquis wrote. “The study offers no serious analysis of the numerous and complex factors associated with railway operations, rail capacity needs present and future, or the strategic location of the St. Luc Yard for CP as well as the larger national network.”

Marquis wrote that right now, there is no “business rationale to support CP relocating this yard to another site.”

Brownstein commented that he has a positive relationship with CP, and Marquis in particular and that the CP official himself had brought up the possibility of the yards moving to Les Cedres, west of Montreal.

“It’s not easy to do, but if we work and put our minds together and work in a collaborative fashion, it could perhaps one day be achieved,” the mayor said.

“Honey does more than vinegar, so the relationship I’ve built with CP allows us to work closely and find solutions,” the mayor added.

Libman told The Suburban he has a copy of the letter from Marquis.

“When I was mayor, I worked very closely with CP on reducing some of the irritants emanating from the rail yards,” the candidate said. “But in 2017, from an urban planning point of view, from an economic point of view, it is completely illogical that these yards, located at the geographic epicentre of the island of Montreal, occupying over 22 million square feet of extremely valuable land, should remain where they are, stifling the potential of the city. Occupying one-third of Côte St. Luc territory, it also impacts our residents as far as noise and access is concerned, and poses a potential security risk.”

Brownstein replied that the CP letter speaks for itself and that Marquis reiterated his points at a meeting the two had Aug. 13.

“He reiterated that the only stakeholder that would help move this matter forward would be a serious developer with the financial capacity to deal with such a large project,” the mayor told The Suburban. “The letter is very clear as to the relocation feasibility studies that would then be required.”

Potential new location found for CSL synagogue

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A potential new location has been found for the Fondation Sepharade Kollel Avrechim synagogue in Côte St. Luc, on the site of the city’s public works yard on Mackle Road, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein announced.

“There’s a very large parking lot, and it’s the area closest to the dog run in that parking lot,” Brownstein told The Suburban. “The parking lot has about 80 to 100 spots, and it’s at the far end.”

The mayor said the city and the synagogue are now in the preliminary stage of looking at the alternative locale.

“I met with Rabbi Yehouda Benoliol and his group, and we gave them the size and configuration, and Urban Planning has given them the configuration documents in terms of what they can work with, and now they have to present a proposal to the Planning Advisory Committee.”

During the July 4 council meeting, several residents asked about the synagogue, in light of a recent register which 23 residents signed, calling for a referendum on a rezoning for the original location elsewhere on Mackle Road.

Seventeen signatures were needed to prompt a referendum. But as the result would be clear — enough to reject the original location — and a referendum would be costly, no vote will be held.

As a result, Côte St. Luc council withdrew the original rezoning bylaw at last week’s meeting, with seven councillors approving and Councillor Dida Berku abstaining because she is a lawyer in a case, unrelated to the zoning, involving Rabbi Yehouda Benoliol.

At a previous meeting, Brownstein said the community would work together to find a new location for the synagogue.

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