TRIBUNAL FINDS ANGELL WOODS LOTS TO BE “OUT OF THE COMMERCIAL MARKET”
Montreal, May 28, 2012.
The Tribunal Administratif du Québec has ruled that two large Angell Woods lots held by private developers have fallen out of the commercial market (hors marché) and have only a nominal value. The lots together total over 5 million square feet and make up the vast majority of the remaining unprotected Angell Woods territory.
The owners of the two lots, Seda Holdings and Yale Properties, have been contesting the amount of the municipal taxes they pay on their lands through a multitude of court proceedings extending back to 1983. The City of Montreal had set the value of their lots at $1,050,000 and $2,800,000 respectively and Montreal and the City of Beaconsfield had continued to collect land taxes on that basis. In two lengthy parallel decisions released earlier this month, the tribunal found that the actual value of the lots was only $1 each. The municipalities will be forced to provide a tax refund to the land-owners for the contested years (2007-2010). Going forward, the land-owners will pay no municipal tax on their properties.
Since 1980, the City of Beaconsfield has required anyone who wishes to develop new land areas to pay for their own infrastructure costs: roads, sewers, rainwater drainage and aqueducts. No such infrastructure was ever built in Angell Woods and the lots are therefore essentially undevelopable. The landowners argued successfully that due to extensive wetlands, far ranging and expensive drainage basins and pumping stations would need to be installed to deal with the surface water. The court also agreed that there is no viable sewage infrastructure for the lots – the only system to which a new residential development could reasonably connect is already nearly saturated.
The judges put much weight on the provincial, regional and municipal restrictions aiming to protect Angell Woods. They also cited an experienced West Island developer, Mario Grilli, who testified that he would not buy the lots.
The tribunal strongly urged the municipal administration to follow the wishes of the elected officials and the citizen taxpayers in order to conserve Angell Woods from development and enhance the well-being and property values of current residents. The President of the Association for the Protection of Angell Woods, Stephen Lloyd, described how “APAW feels these judgments simply reflect reality and constitute a fair settlement to a long-standing problem. Allowing the land-owners to no longer pay taxes on undevelopable lands will not have a material effect on the City of Beaconsfield budget, which is already in a well-managed surplus. Hopefully these judgments will be the final piece of the puzzle which will permit the Council to zone Angell Woods as the ecologically priceless conservation area which the citizens already understand it to be.”
APAW is a non-profit association composed of over 900 members, dedicated to the responsible protection and stewardship of Angell Woods. It owns and manages the Angell Woods Nature Reserve, an area of the woods so designated by the Quebec Government in 2011. Angell Woods is an 80 hectare century-old forest and provincially-designated exceptional forest ecosystem, located in the western part of the Island of Montreal, at the core of the Rivière-à-l’Orme Ecoterritory. It is home to some 14 rare and vulnerable species and is designated in its entirety as a bois métropolitain d’intérêt in the Plan métropolitain d’aménagement et développement (PMAD) of the Communauté Métropolitaine de Montréal.
For more information, visit www.apaw.ca
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