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Environment

Homeowners suing City of Montreal for $7M over contaminated land

WATCH: Some residents in Montreal’s Plateau are raising a stink after finding out that their homes were built on top of a former garbage disposal site. Global's Anne Leclair reports.

A group of homeowners on Sherbrooke Street East is suing the City of Montreal for failing to inform them that their land is contaminated.

They argue the city has known about the contamination and did nothing for more than two decades. Residents call it a health hazard since recent testing shows dangerously high levels of biogas emissions.

“The risk is an explosion,” homeowner Pascal Cormier told Global News. “You buy a house that was built a century ago and never think there could be a landfill with industrial toxic waste underneath.”

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A report by the city dating back to 1994 confirms that Baldwin Park, as well as approximately 80 buildings on the north and south sides of Sherbrooke Street East, near the corner of Fullum street, are sitting on contaminated soil. Residents found out two years ago after the report was made public.

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“I was shocked and I said we need to do something so I decided to contact neighbours to say what are we doing with that,” Cormier said. “We had six months to react with a lawsuit otherwise we would lose our rights.”

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Many residents would like to move out but they’re stuck. One person even lost his home after it was seized by the bank because it was uninsurable.

“I hope they will take responsibility and they will reimburse us for the value of the building,” said condominium owner Glady Benudiz.

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The nine residents behind the lawsuit are hoping the city will settle before the case gets to court. They feel the current administration has ignored their pleas for help.

“Mr. Coderre is always talking about how the security of the citizens is so important to him. Well, this is a good case for him to resolve,” said homeowner Lucie Piché.

Montreal mayoral candidate Valerie Plante promises to act fast on the file if she’s elected.

“It’s such a disaster for people that own a house that may lose their house,” Plante said. “I want to do everything possible to support those residents.”

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MNA Manon Massé is also alarmed by the municipal and provincial government’s lack of action. She confronted the environment minister at the National Assembly, demanding an intervention.

“It’s very dangerous and what the citizens, my citizens ask is to get together all the people who are responsible for it, they want money, they want help.”

But until a solution surfaces, some residents are relying on natural gas detectors to make sure they’re safe.

“The city found some abnormal levels of biogas but they said nothing critical enough that it could explode,” Cormier said.

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