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Hampstead tenants mount legal challenge following ‘illegal’ vote in favour of demolition

Click to play video: 'Hampstead tenants mount legal challenge following ‘illegal’ vote in favour of demolition' Hampstead tenants mount legal challenge following ‘illegal’ vote in favour of demolition
WATCH: Hampstead residents are stepping up their fight against the town to save two buildings from demolition. – Aug 8, 2019

Residents at an apartment building in Hampstead have taken another step in their fight against the town to save two buildings from demolition.

A bailiff delivered a legal letter to mayor William Steinberg Thursday morning, from the tenants’ lawyer stating that a vote on a proposal to demolish two apartment buildings, was illegal.

The plan is to replace the low rent buildings on Côte-Saint-Luc Road with a nine-storey luxury apartment complex. Steinberg is in favour of the project, saying that the town needs the revenue.

READ MORE: Hampstead tenants in affordable housing worry about plans to demolish building

 

Councillors voted three-to-two against it in a special council meeting July 15, but the mayor vetoed the vote.

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He told Global News July 16, “Since we were missing one of the councillors and the vote could easily change if that councillor was present, I felt a veto was the proper thing to do.”

So another vote was held Aug. 5. This time, the resolution to support the project narrowly passed after Steinberg broke a tie by voting in favour.

But according to the tenants’ lawyer, Maryse Lapointe, Steinberg’s use of a veto at the July 15 vote was improper.

“He used his veto for a rejected resolution and we are [of] the opinion that he cannot use his veto for this kind of resolution,” she said.

According to the Quebec Cities and Towns Act, bylaws and resolutions adopted by the council must be submitted to the mayor within 96 hours of adoption of approval.  Within that time, the mayor can decide to not approve them and submit them again to council.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a lot of tax revenue’: Hampstead mayor reiterates support for housing demolition project

In her legal letter to the mayor Thursday, she explains that the mayor has the power to veto resolutions that are adopted, not ones that are rejected.  Lapointe and her clients want the results of Monday’s vote to be cancelled.

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“We are of the opinion that this vote was illegal,” she stressed.

She added that if the mayor chooses to not cancel the vote, they will address the issue in front of Superior Court.  If so, she said a decision could take a year or two.

“This will suspend the project, of course,” she explained.

WATCH: (July 17, 2019) Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project

Click to play video: 'Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project' Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project
Hampstead mayor on the defensive over demolition project – Jul 17, 2019

Now some of the tenants are hopeful and they’re waiting to see what the mayor will do.

“I’m quite happy that they mayor has been notified that he did something illegal,” tenant Patrick Demers said.

“He should correct it. He has to.”

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When Global News asked to comment on Thursday morning after the letter was delivered, the mayor didn’t respond.

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