Developers suing Montreal for millions over Great Western Park
The City of Montreal is facing a lawsuit over the proposed Great Western Park, as three developers are arguing they lost 14 lost years of efforts and investments to build homes in the area.
The developers are seeking $175 million in damages for plans to have 5,500 homes on almost 360 hectares of land in western Pierrefonds, which is part of the proposed massive urban park.
"They can't get away with simply confiscating my clients' land," said Ali Argun, lawyer for the plaintiffs. "The city with Mayor Plante's announcement has simply changed the vocation and the designation of the land so my clients can no longer build."
The mayor's office was unavailable for comment Wednesday on the lawsuit, but a spokesperson for the city said the suit did not change plans for the park.
Coalition Montreal City Councillor Marvin Rotrand said the city was premature in proposing the park.
"It's nice to have good intentions. In some ways, Valerie Plante is very utopian," said Rotrand. "She wants all the good things in life for everybody. However, when you're in government, you have to act pragmatically. You have to have the money. You have to respect people's rights. You can't just say, 'I'm taking it away from you because I think it's good to have a park here.'"
Rotrand added criticism to the city's proposed pink metro line calling it a "fantasy to begin with" and that the city loses face when it proposes plans and changes them.
"It diminishes the credibility of the city administration not only with the public but with the partners within the government of Canada and the government of Quebec," said Rotrand.
Some environmental groups, who have been pushing for a park of this size for years, want the movement to go even further hoping the project serves as inspiration to other governments.
"We do hope the provincial government will come to aid the City of Montreal in this endeavour financially. We know that Mr. Legault has some environmental creds to make up and this would be one way to do it," said Green Coaltion vice president David Fletcher.
The suit was lodged against the City of Montreal, Pierrefonds, Plante and Projet Montreal. Plante announced in August that all the land in the area, including that zoned for residential use would be rezoned and used for the proposed 3,000-hectare park.
Plante was at the United Nations earlier this week lauding the park as one of the things cities can do to reduce carbon emissions and increase cities' eco-footprints.
"Rather than destroying hundreds of hectares of natural spaces and wetlands, we will create the largest urban park in Canada, eight times the size of Central Park," said Plante.
This is a developing story that will be updated.