We recognize that there are many differing perspectives on what has happened, and what still needs to happen, with Angell Woods. We would like to share some information that might help clarify our position.
The City of Beaconsfield maintains that they have been attempting to resolve this situation with us for years. This is only true if you believe that we should give up our rights to the land that we have paid taxes on as developable property for 60 years.
In 2009, then Mayor Bob Benedetti offered to “buy” the land; however, he was offering no money, only tax credits. This was not a hard offer to decline.
During Mayor Pollack’s administration, the City relied on Montreal to step in to save all of the woods. Montreal did make offers to a number of owners, but only for pennies on the dollar.
We have been told repeatedly by Mayor Georges Bourelle that Réal Menard, the individual responsible for preservation on the agglomeration executive council, will negotiate with us. However, as of this writing, we have never received any communication from Mr. Menard himself.
Before all of that, in 2011, some landowners visited officials in Montreal about finding a resolution in Angell Woods, and were told outright that those officials considered the devaluation of our property — the result of a Beaconsfield bylaw freezing all development on it – to be the legitimate value that they intended to use in order to acquire it for preservation. This is exactly what we are seeing today.
The City of Beaconsfield has claimed that it has been protecting our rights as landowners, and has tried to blame the public use of our land on APAW, the Association for the Protection Angell Woods. APAW could not do what it does without a compliant administration that willingly works hand in glove with them.
APAW has been deeply involved in the mayoral elections and holds special status in the City. The City has shared information and studies it has commissioned with APAW about our land that it refuses to share with the landowners. The City has also relied on APAW’s documents and studies, without offering us the opportunity to supply our own information.
In permitting APAW to publish public trails in Angell Woods, and to sponsor events like the Angell Woods Appreciation Day, they promote public pressure for saving all of the woods, a clearly articulated APAW objective.
We recognize that the Mayor and his councillors are in a difficult bind: there is public pressure on them to preserve all of the woods, but they claim that there is simply not enough money to buy them. Consequently, some of the landowners believe that the only fair resolution in Angell Woods is one that allows for a mix of preservation and some tasteful and ecologically sensitive development. Such a resolution would recognize landowners’ rights to develop, satisfy the City’s desire to preserve ecologically valuable land, while easing the tax burden for residents, something that makes that very preservation possible.
Our rights as landowners in Beaconsfield have been taken away for too long, but we are still willing to work with the City to find a resolution. We believe transparency is the best way to end this stalemate.
Diana Shahmoon, Seda Holdings
Menashi Mashall, Yale Properties
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