Coderre is only protecting himself and his incompetent administration from those who got caught. He is still going ahead with the major developement. He should RESIGN. His legacy will be one of destruction, the rape of the remaining green spaces in Montreal.
Coderre administration says it will block Mafia-linked Pierrefonds land from development
Source: The Gazette
The administration of Mayor Denis Coderre says the city will block development on a strip of land in western Pierrefonds that is co-owned by companies and individuals with links to the Mafia and that cuts through an eco-territory the city says it wants to conserve.
However, the city won’t attempt again to buy the 28.5-hectare strip, which runs from just below Gouin Blvd. W. down to the border of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, from its owners, city executive committee member Russell Copeman told reporters at city hall on Monday.
“The administration will not negotiate, will not have discussions with people who presumably have links to organized crime,” he said. “There will not be discussions with them.”
Copeman was responding to a Montreal Gazette article revealing the land in question is the only private parcel that Montreal hasn’t acquired in the projected public conservation zone. The city attempted to purchase it through intermediaries contracted by the city, who told the newspaper they met with Domenico Arcuri Jr., the representative of the land’s owners, between 2006 and 2009. Arcuri asked for too much money, they said, but the city didn’t try to expropriate the property for the project.
Arcuri’s associations were described in La Presse articles in 2005 and in 2008 and by a police investigator testifying at the Charbonneau Commission in 2013. The 2006 anti-Mafia police operation Project Colisée recorded him going to the Café Consenza, the Mafia’s headquarters, 45 times between 2004 and 2006 and once handing money there to former chieftain Nicolo Rizzuto Sr.
Copeman acknowledged that a portion of the land near Gouin and the border of Pierrefonds and Senneville, which is part of a 180-hectare zone the city has been working for a decade to acquire from private owners to conserve as eco-territory, is zoned for residential development. Moreover, the Coderre administration’s new land-use plan, adopted by city council in January and which has regulatory force, marks the upper portion of the land for predominantly residential use.
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The zoning was determined by the borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Copeman said. “There’s a part north of l’Anse-à-l’Orme River that is effectively zoned residential. It’s a question for Pierrefonds-Roxboro. They’re the ones who control the zoning. And these parts are also identified in the land-use plan as (dominant residential use) in the new land-use plan.”
(Borough mayor Dimitrios Jim Beis did not respond to messages on Monday.)
Copeman said the city doesn’t need to buy or expropriate the land to prevent its development because it has other means to block construction on it.
“It remains private property, but we can say, ‘You can’t build on it. You can’t cut down trees. You can’t change the nature of the land’,” Copeman said, adding that the land also isn’t serviced by municipal infrastructure and is partly floodplain.
“We don’t have to be (the) owner to protect the land.”
He compared the situation to the Meadowbrook golf course, which is partly zoned residential but will be conserved.
Still, Copeman also acknowledged that such a strategy could open the city to a lawsuit by the property’s owners.
Meanwhile, Projet Montréal, the official opposition at city hall, said the administration’s position is contradictory and “amateurish” and called on the city to immediately suspend the broader project it has planned for western Pierrefonds, of which the conservation zone is a part.
“The project has enormous flaws,”Projet Montréal leader Luc Ferrandez said. Three maps in the Coderre administration’s new land-use plan, which Projet Montréal members distributed to reporters, show the strip of land in question is not projected for conservation and the upper portion is to be developed as residential. One of the maps also shows a piece of the land near Gouin is sub-divided into smaller lots for homes.
“Now Mr. Copeman says ‘we won’t zone it residential, we won’t allow the development’,” Ferrandez said. “It’s zoned residential on three of the maps of his own (land-use plan). He’s head of urban-planning. He should have controlled this before.
While Copeman called expropriation of the strip of land an expensive option, Ferrandez said it would have been less expensive if the city hadn’t designated the property for residential use in the land-use plan. With residential zoning, the owners can claim lost profits, Ferrandez said.
The land, which is traversed by l’Anse-à-l’Orme River and a road by that name, was bought in 1988 by two companies, Placements Manchester Brighton Ltée and Gestion de placements Uni-Dev Inc. The sole director of Manchester Brighton was Gaétan Gosselin, who was shot to death in January 2013. It is currently owned by Gosselin’s estate, and Quebec business records show the company was briefly presided by Raynald Desjardins, for whom police say Gosselin was an associate.
Gestion de placements Uni-Dev transferred its stake in the property in trust to several shareholders in 1992 and was thereafter designated to represent the shareholders in dealings over the land.
On Friday, Coderre and Copeman endorsed a decade-old city plan to create a development zone on a 180-hectare swath of natural space in western Pierrefonds that would allow 5,000 to 6,000 homes to be built by a group of developers while creating the 180-hectare conservation zone next to it.
“What is green should remain green,” Ferrandez said. The section where the development zone is planned is too far from public transportation, needs municipal infrastructure to be built and requires Transport Quebec to build the long-touted extension of Highway 440, he said. The project will just add 10,000 extra cars on Highway 40, he said.
The city should first hold public consultations on what area of the West Island should be developed, Ferrandez said. It has only consulted the developers so far, he added.
Pierrefonds opposition city councillor Justine McIntyre said the Pierrefonds file should be brought to the city’s new inspector-general, Denis Gallant, to investigate.
“I understand that right now his mandate is only to look at city contracts, but who do we have to look at land transactions like this?” McIntyre, a member of Vrai changement pour Montréal, said. “I think maybe we could broaden his powers so that he could be the person to look into land transactions between the city and private promoters.”