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.


Campaign to save Meadowbrook continues: Info meeting this Thursday

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Information meeting scheduled for continuous campaign to save Meadowbrook

Meadowbrook is nothing short of an oasis that must remain green in perpetuity

Many people in Côte Saint-Luc have heard about the ongoing campaign to save the Meadowbrook Golf Course from development and have it converted into a green space. Many have the impression that it is protected and that the work is over.

On ThursdayMay 11 (7 pm) Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook will hold an information meeting at St. Richard’s Parish in CSL (7070 Guelph Avenue, near Parkhaven) to update the public on the current status of the green space and to secure additional help to have the area converted into a regional nature park for the over 150,000 residents who live in the West End.

The meeting will feature several speakers and provide information on the green space and how it can be used by residents year-round for a variety of activities. There will be a special presentation on the many legal environmental battles in Montreal and a new legal defense organization, the Legacy Fund for the Environment.

All are welcome.

When: May 11th, 2017, 7 pm

Where: St. Richard’s Parish, 7070 Guelph CSL

For more information on Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook, go, SOS Meadowbrook on Facebook or @Parc Meadowbrook on Twitter.


Meadowbrook: Nature at its finest, just around the corner

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Meadowbrook. March 25, 2017. Source: Nigel Dove.




Meadowbrook. March 25, 2017. Source: Nigel Dove.

Meadowbrook developer launches $44M lawsuit against Montreal

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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.”


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.

Safety Setbacks Could Make Meadowbrook Residential Development Impossible


The following article was written by Cote Saint-Luc Councillor Dida Berku and appeared in the Autumn 2013 Les Amis de Meadowbrook Newsletter.

I have supported Dida Berku from the outset in the quest to preserve Meadowbrook. You can get all the background info on this 25 year effort by searching “Meadowbrook” on this blog.

Dida’s efforts may very well benefit not only those of us who advocate to keep this invaluable piece of land as green space in perpetuity for all to enjoy, but many other spaces across the country.

Français ci-dessous


Safety Setbacks Could Make Meadowbrook Residential Development Impossible

By Dida Berku

It is now clear that the catastrophic derailment in Lac Mégantic last July helped convince Montreal’s political leaders of the need for safety setbacks to protect new residences from the hazards of adjacent railways.

Last month, Montreal City Council and the mayors of all Island suburbs unanimously adopted a resolution directing the city’s urban planning department to integrate the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) proximity guidelines into the new urban plan of the Island of Montreal, scheduled to be adopted in 2014.

These guidelines were established by the FCM, which represents all cities across the country, and the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), which represents all its railway companies. The guidelines, first written a decade ago and updated in 2013, propose 30-metre setbacks from railway main lines and 300-metre setbacks from rail yards for all new housing projects.

Meadowbrook is 300 metres wide at the Cote St. Luc entrance and narrows to a point at the boundary of Lachine and Montreal West. Since Meadowbrook is adjacent to the CP yards in Cote St. Luc and the Sortin yards in Lachine, which houses AMT commuter railway repair shops, the adoption of these guidelines in Montreal’s new urban plan would make it practically impossible for any new homes to be built on this site.

For many years, Les Amis has advocated against building housing in proximity to the extensive rail lines and yards near the golf course. The adoption of these guidelines is a major step towards establishing Meadowbrook as a buffer zone between rail activities and housing.

I drafted the proposed resolution, and I can honestly say that this is one of the most gratifying accomplishments of my political career, and a critical milestone in the long journey to save Meadowbrook from development and transform it into a park.

Montreal will be the first city in Canada to embrace these guidelines and will be in a good position to ask the railways to improve the safety and security of their activities in our communities.

Now, let’s all see how we can leverage this resolution in our efforts to protect this precious green space. Meanwhile, Les Amis will continue to monitor and push for these guidelines to be adopted and integrated into the Island of Montreal’s new urban plan.


Les retraits de sécurité pourraient rendre impossible le développement de Meadowbrook

par Dida Berku

La catastrophe de Lac Mégantic en juillet dernier a finalement convaincu les élus montréalais qu’il fallait des retraits de sécurité afin de protéger les nouvelles résidences des accidents ferroviaires.

Le mois denier, le conseil municipal de Montréal et les maires des villes de banlieue de l’île de Montréal ont unanimement adopté une résolution enjoignant au service d’urbanisme d’intégrer les directives de la Fédération canadienne des municipalités (FCM) dans le nouveau plan d’urbanisme de l’île de Montréal qui doit être adopté en 2014.

Ces directives ont été établies par la FCM, qui représente toutes les villes canadiennes, et l’Association des chemins de fer du Canada (ACFC), qui représente toutes les compagnies ferroviaires. Ces directives, rédigées il y a une dizaine d’années et mises à jour en 2013, proposent que tout nouveau projet résidentiel soit éloigné de 30 mètres des voies ferrées et de 300 mètres des gares de triage.

Meadowbrook fait 300 mètres de largeur à l’entrée de Côte St. Luc et se termine en pointe à la limite de Lachine et Montréal-Ouest. Puisque Meadowbrook voisine la gare de triage du CP à Côte St. Luc et la gare de triage Sortin à Lachine, où se trouvent les ateliers de l’AMT, l’adoption de ces directives rendrait à toutes fins impossible la construction de nouvelles maisons sur le site.

Depuis plusieurs années, Les Amis fait des représentations contre la construction de résidences à proximité des voies ferrées et des gares de triage près du terrain de golf. L’adoption de ces directives marque un grand pas pour faire de Meadowbrook une zone tampon entre les activités ferroviaires et l’habitation.

J’ai rédigé la résolution et je peux dire qu’il s’agit de l’une des réalisations les plus gratifiantes de ma carrière politique et d’un jalon important pour sauver Meadowbrook du développement et le transformer en parc.

Montréal est la première ville canadienne à appuyer ces directives et sera ainsi mieux positionnée pour demander aux compagnies ferroviaires d’améliorer la sécurité de leurs opérations dans nos collectivités.

Voyons maintenant comment nous pouvons utiliser cette résolution pour protéger ce précieux espace vert. Les Amis continuera de surveiller et de pousser l’adoption de ces directives et leur intégration au nouveau plan d’urbanisme de l’île de Montréal.

Meadowbrook friends promote their master plan

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From Les Amis de Meadowbrook:

As a result of the hard work of many organizations and individuals working in concert with Les Amis de Meadowbrook, the City of Montreal now has what it needs to protect this precious green space and create Meadowbrook Park.

Several recent initiatives by Les Amis de Meadowbrook helped move the process forward: a news conference to launch a Master Plan for a Meadowbrook Urban Nature Heritage Park, accessible to all; and a separate press conference to disclose the results of an investigation by the lobbying commissioner of Quebec that revealed illegal lobbying activities by the developer Groupe Pacific over a number of years.

With the iron now hot, we must continue to build public support for the park and ensure that our elected representatives continue to support the idea.

The first step will be to enforce the 300-meter safety setback for residences from the surrounding marshalling yards, as mandated by both the Railway Association of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In this regard, Montreal City Council has just adopted a resolution mandating the city’s Executive Committee, in collaboration with the Borough of Lachine, to undertake a study of all proposals for sustainable development of Meadowbrook, with particular reference to the safety setbacks and to the formal opposition to development expressed by both CP Rail and the AMT. We are in full support of this resolution, and would particularly like to thank Vision Montréal, Projet Montréal and the whole Municipal Council for taking this important step.

With Meadowbrook unable to be developed for safety reasons, the portion of Meadowbrook that is in the Borough of Lachine should be rezoned to recreational from residential. Côte Saint-Luc rezoned its portion to recreational in 2000.

The final step is the creation of Meadowbrook Park. The recently unveiled Master Plan was prepared for Les Amis de Meadowbrook by landscape architecture firm Catalyse Urbaine, in collaboration with the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal). The plan proposes converting the 57-hectare space into an Urban Nature Heritage Park, accessible to all Montrealers. New pedestrian and cycling paths would integrate Meadowbrook with existing recreational networks and make the park easily accessible to the densely populated areas of St. Pierre and Lachine.

In taking delivery of the Master Plan on behalf of the city, Josée Duplessis, the executive committee member in charge of sustainable development, undertook to have the city administration study the plan. She also applauded the initiative, saying, “We have a new generation of ecologists who, instead of just demanding projects from public officials, present real, concrete projects that can be worked on.”

The Master Plan was paid for by the fundraising efforts of Les Amis de Meadowbrook last year. It incorporates the views of a variety of community members who last fall attended a one-day design charette, or workshop, to discuss the potential uses for and design of Meadowbrook Park.

The issue of illegal lobbying follows a 2010 complaint to the Quebec lobbying commissioner, lodged by Les Amis member Campbell Stuart, acting as a private citizen. The commissioner’s three-year investigation found that Suzanne Deschamps, vice-president of development and legal affairs at Groupe Pacific, lobbied municipal and Hydro Quebec employees on at least 13 occasions between 2008 and 2010 without being registered as a lobbyist, as required by Quebec law. Stuart turned the commissioner’s findings over to Les Amis, which made them public.

Meadowbrook “Comedy for a Cause” Fundraiser July 23rd

Once again we’re packing the Comedy Nest to support Les Amis de Meadowbrook in our goal to create a park for southwest Montreal. Join us for an evening of fun and exercise for your stomach muscles at the Comedy Nest Just For Laughs: As Seen on TV! lineup on July 23rd. Approximately eight top comedians will be warming up at the downtown club before their gala sets. Be there to help them and help Meadowbrook! The money raised will help fund our current projects: a multi-platform map highlighting endangered green spaces across Montreal, and a showcase of the Université de Montréal landscape architecture students’ visions for Meadowbrook Park.

For tickets, contact Barbara Tekker at Tickets are $35.

The Comedy Nest is located on the third floor of the AMC/Pepsi Forum at 2313 Ste. Catherine at Atwater.

‘Beautiful future’ proposed for site of Meadowbrook golf course

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By Monique Beaudin, Gazette environment reporter April 23, 2013

MONTREAL — Bike paths, lookouts with views of Mount Royal and Lac Saint-Louis, silver maple forests, community gardens, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

That is how two Montreal environmental groups envision a new nature park they say could be built on the west-end Meadowbrook golf course.

“We think Meadowbrook has a beautiful future as a park for all Montrealers,” said Coralie Deny of the Conseil regional de l’environnement. “We want to make people dream. But we are convinced that this is a dream that can become reality in a few years.”

The 57-hectare golf course is privately owned by Groupe Pacific Inc., which in November filed a request to the city for a residential project on the property. Montreal had previously rejected its plan for a 1,500-unit housing project on part of the site because the infrastructure costs were too high.

The golf course straddles the city of Côte St. Luc and the Montreal borough of Lachine.

The area around the golf course has a dearth of green spaces, which is why the golf course should be converted to a park, Deny said.

Although the land has been used a golf course, with strategic planting it could become a preserve of biodiversity for the island of Montreal, said Patrick Asch of Les Amis de Meadowbrook. The site has different habitats — meadows, forests, wetlands and the Little St. Pierre River and is located on a bird migration route.

The city of Montreal will study the proposed park project, said Josée Duplessis, the executive-committee member in charge of sustainable development. Duplessis applauded the two groups for coming up with the plan, which was the result of a workshop held in December with urban planners, environmentalists, municipal officials and citizens.

“We have a new generation of ecologists who, instead of just demanding projects from public officials, present real, concrete projects that can be worked on,” Duplessis said.

The opposition Vision Montreal party called on the city to prioritize the project, and require all city departments to study it, party spokesperson Olivier Lapierre said.

“For years now this dossier has been stagnating,” he said. “We want all those city civil servants to have a copy of this document in order to find solutions … that can benefit Montreal taxpayers, but also benefit Montrealers who need access to quality green spaces.”

He pointed to the fact that other parks — such as Maisonneuve and Lafontaine — were once golf courses, so his party believes that Meadowbrook has a good chance of becoming a new park.

For nearly 25 years, debate has swirled over a series of plans to build houses on the golf course.

In 2009, a committee of Montreal’s agglomeration council recommended that Meadowbrook be turned into a nature park as part of a greenbelt that would include the Falaise St. Jacques in southern Notre Dame de Grâce.

In November, Groupe Pacific filed a building-permit request with the Lachine borough for a residential development, Duplessis said. But Montreal maintains the infrastructure costs are too high for that project.

Turning the golf course into a park does not necessarily require the city to buy the property, Duplessis said. There are issues about whether it could actually be built on, she said, pointing to the fact that it is in a flood zone and located next to the largest train yards on the island, Duplessis said.

“There are many things to look at,” she said.

Twitter: @moniquebeaudin

See the comparative map and drawings:  Two visions for Meadowbrook Golf Course

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