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

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