APAW Newsletter 2017

La version française suit la version anglaise. Merci!
Dear APAW members:
On August 7, 2017, the judgement of the Superior Court of Quebec in the case of Yale Properties Ltd. v. City of Beaconsfield was released. Your Association intervened in the case, in support of the City. Yale Properties is the owner of the 3.5 million square foot lot situated in Angell Woods between the City of Beaconsfield dog park area on the east and the Lakeview Boulevard properties on the west. The Yale lot represents approximately 30% of Angell Woods and is one of the two remaining lots (representing together approximately 50% of the woods) which are not owned by governments or conservation entities. The Yale lot is private property.
The judgement follows a 2 week trial in March of this year. The judgement itself is 45 pages long and is primarily made up of an in depth analysis of the complicated relations between Yale, Beaconsfield and APAW over the period between 2010 and 2017. The court acknowledged that Angell Woods has been an important preoccupation of the community since at least the 1990’s. Among the facts examined in great detail were the background to the passage by Beaconsfield Council in the spring of 2010 of a “Control By-law”, which restricted development of the Woods until Council could figure out an appropriate zoning plan. The Court also reviewed the context and proceedings behind the abortive “PPU Development Plan” rolled out by the Council in August 2013 (and the extremely negative public reaction to the plan). It was the combined effect of the Control By-law, together with the failure to move forward on the proposed local PPU Development Plan, which has meant that more regional initiatives (the PMAD and the Agglomeration Council and City of Montreal schema, or urban plans) have since resulted in Angell Woods effectively being zoned for conservation.
In the judge’s careful analysis, she found no evidence of “bad faith” on the part of the City; nor did she find any “collusion” between Beaconsfield and APAW which aimed to block Yale Properties from developing their lot. In the court’s view, Beaconsfield played by the rules, listened appropriately to its citizens and acted on a very legitimate goal: the protection of the environment.
The request by Yale to have the Control By-law declared inapplicable to them, on the grounds of bad faith and collusion, was completely rejected by the judge. The court found that there had been no “disguised expropriation” of the Yale lot. As well, in seeking to protect the environment, the City may have reduced the “economic value” of the Yale lot, but that is completely within the bounds of what a municipality is allowed to do. As confirmed explicitly in the judgement, protection of the environment is now a fundamental part of Canadian values.
The Yale lot has no “grandfather rights” to be developed. It is subject to whatever zoning rules the various levels of government prescribe from time to time.
However, as a separate issue, the judge agreed with Yale that citizens have been illegally trespassing on their private property. The court has ordered this trespassing to stop. As well, APAW has been ordered to publicize this element of the judgement to you – our members. APAW also needs to take down the few remaining signs in the Woods which show a trail map with trails extending over Yale’s property or bearing its logo. The same has to be done on our website. We will of course comply with the court order.
The full text of Madame Justice Mainville’s judgement is available on our website (www.apaw.ca). As ordered by the court, we draw your attention in particular to pages 42 and 43, which contain the specific orders regarding the respect of Yale’s private property, as well as Annex A to her judgement, which shows the location of the Yale lot (see the attached document for pages 42-43 and Annex A).
As you our members know so well, the Angell Woods conservation story is a long and complicated tale. Twenty years ago, no parts of the Woods were protected; now half of the woods are in public or conservation hands and most of the remaining half is zoned for conservation.
We will see what impact this most recent judgement has on the “graceful exit” of Yale, which is the profound wish of the community. So far, there have been four graceful exits from Angell Woods by similar development-minded landowners; we have two to go.
The challenge for our local governments remains: make a deal to bring these last two lots into the public conservation domain, under extremely difficult circumstances.
However, as has now been confirmed by the courts, the City has been doing everything right so far. Keep up the good work, Beaconsfield and Montreal! We have your back.
Your APAW Executive
pages 42-43- Annexe A jugement Yale Properties c. Ville de Beaconsfield et APBA-APAW

pages 42-43- Annexe A jugement Yale Properties c. Ville de Beaconsfield et APBA-APAW

pages 42-43- Annexe A jugement Yale Properties c. Ville de Beaconsfield et APBA-APAW

Judgement Yale Properties Ltd. v. City of Beaconsfield

500-17-065469-119 Yale Properties Ltd c. Ville de Beaconsfield (7-08-2017)

Decision – Conseil de presse du Québec

Décision – Conseil de presse du Québec

APAW Newsletter

Happy spring to our APAW members! We hope you are enjoying the feeling of the warmth of the sun finally drying out the earth, leading the trout lilies to start poking through the brown leaves of the forest.

As discussed at our Annual General Meeting last month, there is some news on the Angell Woods front. We are now awaiting the judgment of Madame Justice Johanne Mainville in a case which was heard over two very long weeks in March. One of the few remaining Angell Woods “non-conservation” landowners, Yale Properties, sued the City of Beaconsfield, alleging that the City acted in bad faith. Yale’s lawyers claimed that the City went out of its way to block a development plan hastily submitted by the landowner around the time that the City passed its Angell Woods interim control by-law, back in 2010.

APAW intervened in the case in support of the City. APAW’s attorney assisted the City’s lawyers in their arguments that Beaconsfield has been following all required urban planning rules in simply attempting to carry out the wishes of its elected officials, its citizens and the regional authorities to which it reports, regarding the land use of Angell Woods.

Yale Properties then actually turned their attention against APAW, asking the judge to issue an injunctive order specifically against APAW, its members, officers and directors, prohibiting all access to Yale’s privately-owned part of the Woods. This request would be above and beyond any normal rights to generally keep people off their private property.
It is not at all clear how such an order would work in practice, particularly because it now seems like the majority of people walking in Angell Woods are not even APAW members. It may be that we will be required to formally advise our members that Yale Property’s lands are private. For the record, APAW has of course always acknowledged that portions of Angell Woods are private property.

The judge has taken the whole matter under advisement and will presumably issue her judgment in the coming months. We will keep you posted.

In other news, APAW had filed a formal complaint with the Conseil de la Presse over an article which appeared in the Suburban in 2016, alleging that it was grossly inaccurate regarding certain facts about Angell Woods and that it was highly unbalanced in its reporting of the issue.

After both sides submitted written arguments, the Conseil de la Presse issued its judgment at the beginning of April. APAW’s position was upheld across the board. A link to the judgment is on our website.

In terms of next steps, we are still waiting for the City of Beaconsfield to finalize its zoning of Angell Woods, in compliance with the conservation requirements of the regional authorities, being the Montreal Metropolitan Community and the Agglomeration of Montreal. We will be watching closely.

In the meantime, enjoy the trout lilies!

Your APAW Executive