Judge rejects developer’s lawsuit against Montreal over Meadowbrook

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Developer accused city of “disguised expropriation”

A Superior Court Judge has rejected a $44-million lawsuit against the city of Montreal over a proposed housing development on the Lachine side of the Meadowbrook Golf Course that failed to materialize.

In a 45-page judgement rendered Wednesday, Judge Pepita G. Capriolo ruled the city had not engaged in a “disguised expropriation,” as land owner Groupe Pacific alleged, nor was the city responsible for $15.5 million in potential profits the developer argued it could have made.

“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,” the judge wrote.

Real-estate developer 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.

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, and later presented a plan to build a pedestrian-friendly and environmentally responsible, 1600-unit residential complex dubbed Petite Rivière.

The city argued estimates of the infrastructure costs it would have had to shoulder to put in water and sewage pipes and a railway overpass ranged from $60 million to $150 million, costs that it would have taken at least 43 years to recoup in taxes. In 2010 it told Groupe Pacific it would not support development there because of the infrastructure bill, although it did not share its cost estimates with the developer.

“The judge got it right,” said Alan DeSousa, who was the executive committee member responsible for environmental issues for the city of Montreal in 2010. “It shows that cities do have the right and the ability to protect their environments.”

Côte-St-Luc councillor Dida Berku said the lawsuit is “very promising” for their municipality, which is the target of a $32-million lawsuit by Groupe Pacific that dates back to 2001.

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. Groupe Pacific has the right to appeal the decision.

rbruemmer@postmedia.com

twitter.com/renebruemmer

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Meadowbrook judgment ‘bodes well for CSL’

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The Superior Court judgment favouring Montreal against the developer of the Meadowbrook Golf Course, Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, bodes well for Côte St. Luc in its own legal case with the developer, say Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Councillor Dida Berku and mayoral candidate Robert Libman.

Groupe Pacific had sued Montreal for $44 million over the borough of Lachine’s refusal to allow residential building on its part of the site, which the borough attributed to high infrastructure costs. The other part of the site is in Côte St. Luc.

According to media reports, Judge Pepita G. Capriolo rejected Groupe Pacific’s contention that Montreal engaged in a disguised expropriation, and that the city was responsible for the developer losing $15.5 million in profits. Also according to reports, the judge ruled that many other factors prevented the development on the Lachine side.

 In the case of Côte St. Luc, the city was originally sued by the developer in 2000, when the city changed the zoning of its part of the golf course site from residential to recreational and commercial. 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.

As we reported in 2015, “the Quebec Superior Court did not allow the company to pursue the $19 million claim.”

Late in 2015, Groupe Pacific wanted to amend its lawsuit, 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. That is where the case with Côte St. Luc stands at this point.

Brownstein was pleased with last week’s judgement.

“The judgment in favour of Montreal is very promising for Côte St. Luc, because it essentially affirms what we have been arguing for years,” the Mayor said. “While there is still a case pending since [2000] against Côte St. Luc, this related decision validates many of our arguments.”

Berku, who has been defending the right of the city to maintain Meadowbrook for recreational use, said the decision is a “great victory for the right of cities to determine the best land use in the public interest. Montreal had the right to refuse to invest hundreds of millions in infrastructure, especially because all details of the project were not finalized.”

The councilllor added that the judge “decided that golf is a reasonable use, especially in light of the new urban plan adopted by the Montreal agglomeration in 2015, which designated all of Meadowbrook as green space for recreational use.

Libman, during a press conference Friday, was also very pleased. The zoning change from residential to recreational took place when he was Mayor of Côte St. Luc.

“It’s certainly very positive for Côte St. Luc — we were all waiting to see what the judgment would be on the Lachine side,” the mayoral candidate said. “I was going to be examined by the lawyers over the next few months. Now that there’s a precedent defeating the lawsuit against Lachine (Montreal), it certainly looks as though the lawsuit against Côte St. Luc for about $20 million will be dismissed, which is great news for our taxpayers and residents.”

Groupe Pacific has the option to appeal the latest judgment.

N

In my opinion:
Fantastic news for Cote Saint-Luc. I have always been an enthusiastic and outspoken opponent of developing Meadowbrook. Just check out the very many posts on my blog for the history on this file. As City Councillor I will continue to fight to preserve this invaluable greenspace for future generations. I would be thrilled to have this space acquired by the Montreal Agglomeration to be shared by all across the West End as a regional park.

CSL golf tourney proves more fun than I imagined

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Five in this Foursome: Andy Lee, Glenn J. Nashen, Mike Cohen, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, Police Commander Jean O’Malley

Had you asked me a few weeks ago I couldn’t tell you who Bill Lee was. I’m not the biggest sports fun, but despite my occasional venture to see the Expos at Jarry Park as a teenager I really didn’t know the names of the players all that well.

So when I was told that my recent foursome in the Cote Saint-Luc Golf Classic included Bill “Spaceman” Lee I was kind of excited to know I’d be meeting an astronaut. Well, that’s what I thought.

Truth be told, I was more excited that Police Commander Jean O’Malley of Station 9 would be one of my four besties for the day.

But life has a funny way of unfolding and once I was adequately briefed by my fellow rookie golfer Mike Cohen as to the background on Bill Lee the day was anything but usual.

For those that were as clueless as me, William Francis Lee III (born December 28, 1946), nicknamed Spaceman, is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher. He played for the Boston Red Sox 1969–1978 and the Montreal Expos 1979–1982. On November 7, 2008, Lee was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame, as the team’s record-holder for most games pitched by a left-hander (321) and the third-highest win total (94) by a Red Sox southpaw. On August 23, 2012, Lee signed a contract to play with the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League at age 65.

In addition to his baseball experience, Lee is known for his counterculture behavior, his antics both on and off the field, and his use of the Leephus pitch, a personalized variation of the eephus pitch.[1]

Lee has co-written four books: The Wrong StuffHave Glove, Will TravelThe Little Red (Sox) Book: A Revisionist Red Sox History; and Baseball Eccentrics: The Most Entertaining, Outrageous, and Unforgettable Characters in the Game. In 2006, the documentary film by Brett Rapkin Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey featured Lee.

In 1988, Lee was the Rhinoceros Party presidential candidate running on a platform of bulldozing the Rocky Mountains so Alberta could receive a few extra minutes of sunlight and banning guns and butter. His slogan was “No guns, no butter. Both can kill.”[21]

In May 2016, Lee was chosen by the Liberty Union Party as its nominee for the 2016 election for governor of Vermont.[21] Lee, who had never heard of the Liberty Union Party before, was contacted by the party to run for governor and accepted.[4] Lee did not take campaign contributions.[22] His campaign slogan was, “So far left, we’re right”.[23] 

Lee lost the election, receiving 8,912 votes (2.78%).[25]

Commander O’Malley with Montreal’s Finest, ‘Officer’ Flick, Bill Lee and Glenn J. Nashen

True to his bio, Bill was as entertaining as can be, a ton of laughs. He reminisced about his olden days in Montreal, about his life experiences and his ‘retirement’ plans to move from Vermont to British Colombia. He was joined by his son and his adoring and charming wife, Diane.

Baseball player or not, Bill instructed me every step of the way, as I was completely out of my element with golf clubs in hand. We spoke about family, travel, and of course, baseball.

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum was a real sport golfing in his Expos T-Shirt, seen here at the ACC for lunch, with my dad, George, and me

Not to underscore (pun intended, as I really underscored) the importance of having the best coach the Montreal Police Department could offer, Jean had the patience of a saint in instructing me on proper posture, grip and swing. My game, only the second time out in my life, was dramatically improved by Jean’s coaching and the pressure of not making a complete fool of myself. Lucky for me, years of mini putt really paid off.

Oh, who am I fooling? I wasn’t even close to being close!

The honouree at this year’s tournament was Johnny Elias, a long-time volunteer and past owner of the Grand Slam Baseball School. “Johnny recently agreed to loan nearly 50 years’ worth of baseball memorabilia to Côte Saint-Luc,” said Councillor Mike Cohen.

Bill shared stories about his close relationship with Johnny Elias from the days he played with the Expos. When he was released in 1982, Johnny hired him to be an instructor at his camp. Bill has maintained a connection to our city for more than 30 years. “Johnny and I are like brothers,” Bill said.

The Pierre Brunet Parks and Recreation Bursary Fund was launched, sponsored by local McDonald’s franchisee Pierre Brunet. “The Fund will be used to help local families who need financial help to register their children in recreation programs. Funds will also support children with special needs. Pierre Brunet has been involved in helping our community for many years,” Mike Cohen said. “This new initiative will have a direct impact in the lives of many kids in our community.”

Brunet announced that $4,700 was raised at the two McHappy Days in CSL this year. CSL Men’s Club contributed $1400 by selling coffee to its members (courtesy of McDonald’s). Men’s Club funny man, Mannie Young, announced that his grandchildren Jesse, Zoe, Andie and Cooper Young, donated an additional $500. With spontaneous support from others including Steve Woloz from the CSL Model Aeronautics Association and MNA David Birnbaum the fund will be launched with more than $7,000. Now that’s the power of community!

Bill Lee was interviewed live on stage by the well-spoken and personable CSL resident and TSN 690 Radio show host Matthew Ross.  Lee was hilarious in his views on anything and everything and in telling bits of his fascinating life story. “Live in the moment,” the outspoken and provocative sports legend told the audience. “Don’t worry about the past or be concerned by what may come. Just enjoy thing right now.”

Thank you to event co-chairs Councillors Mike Cohen and Sam Goldbloom, to staff leads Harold Cammy and Alvin Fishman and to all the volunteers and sponsors such as Marc Ezerzer. It was really a great time and Mike and I got to meet a Montreal Expos legend and hang out with a Top Cop. What a great day.

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 towww.lesamisdemeadowbrook.org, SOS Meadowbrook on Facebook or @Parc Meadowbrook on Twitter.

Source: MikeCohen.ca

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 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.

Court of Appeal dismisses Meadowbrook developer’s motion

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The Quebec Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed a motion by Meadowbrook Golf Course developer Meadowbrook Groupe Pacific, regarding the latest version of a lawsuit against Côte St. Luc that has wound its way through the courts for 15 years.

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 was on the backburner 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.

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.

Now Groupe Pacific wants 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. That appeals court hearing took place Friday and lasted three minutes.

“Their appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed,” said Côte St. Luc Councillor Dida Berku. “They wanted an opinion from the Court of Appeal as to whether or not they were precluded from claiming another $20 million. The judgment states that if they want to re-amend to claim another $20 million, they have to go back to Superior Court, and the Superior Court will decide. The Court of Appeal will not decide on the merits of their re-amendment in advance.”

Berku said the Court of Appeal judgment was basically quoting Côte St. Luc’s position in this matter.

joel@thesuburban.com

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