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?

Meadowbrook developer suing city for $46 million

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Montreal Gazette, Mar. 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Safety Setbacks Could Make Meadowbrook Residential Development Impossible

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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.

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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.

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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.

City council: New rules would prevent construction near tracks, railway yards

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City council: New rules would prevent construction near tracks, railway yards. (Montreal Gazette) Link removed.

In brief:

  • Montreal has adopted new rules that would forbid the construction of new buildings within 30 metres of busy train tracks and 300 metres of a railway yard.
  • The new rules would also outline steps that could be taken to improve safety and reduce nuisances like noise and vibrations from rail operations, such as installing safety fences, berms and noise barriers.
  • Montreal city council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the new guidelines, drawn up by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Railway Association of Canada. They would be included in Montreal’s new urban plan, which must be adopted by the end of 2014.
  • Montreal’s agglomeration council is also expected to approve them Thursday, extending them across the island of Montreal.
  • Côte-St-Luc city councillor Dida Berku has been calling for more than 20 years for municipalities to adopt railway setback guidelines for development and said she was “elated” when Montreal city council adopted them.
  • The new guidelines could mean the controversial development of the west-end Meadowbrook golf course would not be allowed to proceed. The golf course, which is in Lachine and Côte-St-Luc, has a train yard on its north and west side, with train tracks running east-west through the golf course itself. Several housing developments have been proposed for the site over the past 25 years. Montreal has said building municipal infrastructure for the site is too costly.

This is excellent news.  I have supported this theory in order to safeguard residents living near rail lines and yards for 20 years and I’ve echoed Dida Berku’s call to protect Meadowbrook, in large part, because of this potential danger.

It is sad that this position by the City of Montreal had to follow such a horrible tragedy but Lac Megantic has served as a wake up call for municipalities across Canada.

Cote Saint-Luc has been very progressive in assuring Meadowbrook’s future as a green space. This resolution, soon to be presented to the Montreal Agglomeration Council will give greater assurance on its ultimate preservation.

 

A vision for Meadowbrook: An urban nature heritage park, accessible to all

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Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

This afternoon I attended a press conference outlining a vision for Meadowbrook along with Councillor Dida Berku. Les Amis de Meadowbrook, along with the Conseil regional de l’environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal) and landscape architecture firm Catalyse Urbaine, shared their vision of an urban nature heritage park, accessible to all.

These three organizations believe this vision will provide a solid basis for transforming this green space into a public park, and hope that city officials will study the report in this light.

“Meadowbrook is the last intact large green space in the heart of the island of Montreal that could be developed into a park for all Montrealers,” says Les Amis de Meadowbrook spokesman Patrick Asch. “It is now time for the City of Montreal to follow up on the recommendations of the 2009 Montreal Agglomeration Council commission on large installations and agglomeration activities and add Meadowbrook to the city’s network of parks.”

Currently a public golf course, Meadowbrook is a 57-hectare green space bordered by railway tracks and rail yards on the south and west, and has only one entrance, located on the north side. It is, however, close to existing bicycle paths, the Lachine Canal and the AMT commuter line. New pedestrian entrances and cycle paths could easily open up access to Meadowbrook and integrate it with existing green corridors.

The new park could be connected through a greenway to a network of parks, including the Falaise Saint-Jacques, and a pedestrian infrastructure could make it accessible to all Montrealers, including the densely populated areas of Lachine and Saint-Pierre.

During a day-long workshop in early December 2012, residents, social services and health experts, biologists, students and elected officials visited the site and brainstormed. “We didn’t worry about implementation,” says Juliette Patterson, a landscape architect with Catalyse Urbaine. “We just imagined what we would like to see, and the results were unanimous: a park where people can go to observe nature and to learn about the historical and cultural aspects of the site.”

Coralie Deny, executive-director of CRE-Montreal, says, “We are convinced that, with a document like this in hand, the elected officials of the Montreal Agglomeration will agree with the importance of carrying out this public project. It fits perfectly with the spirit of the Montreal Development Plan currently being discussed.”

A new Meadowbrook Urban Nature Heritage Park Accessible to All, would offer Montrealers:

• A 57-hectare park in the heart of the island, where over 500,000 residents of the southwest region currently lack access to nature.

• A precious preserve of biodiversity located on a major spring migration flyway. Meadowbrook’s trees and streams also provide a rich resource for ducks, geese and songbirds.

• Heritage aspects of the area include First Nations archaeological sites, a history of agricultural use and a role in Canada’s railway history.

• A 1.4-km multi-use trail for pedestrians, cyclists and cross-country skiers, a 2.8- km year-round path for pedestrians and skiers, an additional 2 km of paths, as well as gardens and an outdoor theatre.

The full report can be downloaded from Les Amis de Meadowbrook website at lesamisdemeadowbrook.org.

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Photo credit: Nigel Dove, Les Amis de Meadowbrook

Les Amis de Meadowbrook is a citizen’s movement dedicated to protecting Meadowbrook from development and transforming it into an Urban Nature Heritage Park Accessible to All.

CRE-Montreal is an independent non-profit organization committed to environmental protection and the promotion of sustainable development on the island of Montreal. http://www.cremtl.qc.ca

Catalyse Urbaine is a landscape and architecture design firm that exists to fulfill the seamless integration of nature into urban design – an endeavour that combines environmental sensitivity with public well-being.

Nicole and Nathalie hold up maps showing heat concentration on Island of Montreal.  Cote Saint-Luc is a hot spot making preservation of Meadowbrook even more important.

Nicole and Nathalie hold up maps showing heat concentration on Island of Montreal. Cote Saint-Luc is a hot spot making preservation of Meadowbrook even more important.

In my opinion: 

Meadowbrook presents a significant attraction to thousands of young families for recreation and leisure and living in a city that promotes an active, healthy environment and lifestyle. It opens up a safe and secure corridor for thousands of cyclists and pedestrians to connect the west end with the Lachine Canal.  
 
Cote Saint-Luc is investing heavily and continuing its plans to attract young families.  The Meadowbrook connection is a major piece in the puzzle for young families.
For more info type “Meadowbrook” in the search field at the top of this page.

Reflecting on Earth Hour

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Rivière Saint-Pierre

Rivière Saint-Pierre at Meadowbrook (Photo credit: douaireg)

There are many moments throughout the year where we are reminded to stop and reflect a moment on the significance of one of many causes, holidays and life cycle events.  I salute Councillor Dida Berku for constantly reminding us of the importance to reflect upon, and to protect, the environment.

Here’s a message I received from her last night as I was dutifully dimming the lights in my home in observance of world earth Hour:

 

For the next hour think of the earth and how we can help heal it.

Think of the thousands of sick sea lions who are washing up on the California shore from a sick Pacific.

And think of the polar bears who are losing their natural habitat and our own birds and trees that need our attention.

Think of reducing our carbon footprint next year and think of ways we as politicians can make a difference.

 

Now I may be indifferent to sea horses and polar bears but I can indeed see the forests and the birds, I observe the Urban Heat Islands here in Cote Saint-Luc and I appreciate the wealth of trees along our residential streets to help reduce those hot spots.  I enjoy the beauty of our parks and I am excited by the potential of Meadowbrook to remain green and unspoiled for generations to come.

Thank you Dida for helping me to remind all Cote Saint-Lucers and neighbours of the importance to reflect upon this moment in time, in addition to all of the other important moments throughout our year.

Dawson students petition to save Meadowbrook

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Dawson students have created an online petition to support the preservation of Meadowbrook as a green space.
 
They intend to send the petition to Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, “who has the power to at least save the area from development by changing the zoning on the Lachine side of the present golf course to ‘recreational,'” according to the petitioners.

The goal was to garner 500 signatures in the hopes of tripling this number.  At this writing I was the 811th signature.

I encourage you to sign the petition as every initiative in this decades-long battle is helpful and supportive.

Click here to sign the petition:
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/dawson-college-supports-nature-not-condos/

For more information on saving the Meadowbrook green space click here:                                                                          http://lesamisdemeadowbrook.org/

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