Gatineau, Que. mansion built too close to road must be demolished, judge rules
OTTAWA -- A multimillion-dollar home in Aylmer must be demolished because it was built too close to the street, a Quebec judge has ruled.
The decision by Quebec Superior Court Judge Michel Déziel comes after an eight-year saga that began when the city of Gatineau granted the homeowner permission to build the house even though it ran afoul of zoning bylaws.
The nearly $3-million home at 79 chemin Fraser was built seven metres from the street, instead of the minimum 15.67 metres. Nearby residents opposed to the home’s construction say it doesn’t fit with the rest of the neighbourhood.
But the city granted homeowner Patrick Molla all the required building permits in 2013. He believed the plans complied with municipal rules since the city approved them.
The city later found the plans were approved due to ‘human error,’ since the planning official who granted them didn’t know the relevant bylaw.
To fix that mistake, in July 2014 city council granted a minor exemption to allow the home to be closer to the street.
Judge Déziel’s 51-page decision on Tuesday overturned that exemption.
“The city, by allowing this exemption, sets aside a clear regulatory standard,” Déziel wrote in his decision, adding that the city opposed the demolition of the home but did not propose any other solutions.
Déziel also ruled the city of Gatineau must cover legal costs.
Lawyer Sébastien Gélineau, who represents four of the neighbours opposed to the home, said they are pleased with the result.
“My clients are courageous people, and we are very happy for them,” he said. “We were convinced from the beginning that the construction was not regulation.”
It’s unclear whether the city will appeal the decision. It must wait at least 30 days before filing an appeal.
Homeowner suing city
Molla has filed a separate $3.6-million lawsuit against the city of Gatineau.
That lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleges that the city’s planning department acted dishonestly in letting construction continue while knowing the consequences of such a decision.
The city contends the initial mistakes were made by the professionals Molla hired, because they failed to apply the zoning bylaw, and if damages are awarded, the architect and land surveyor should also be held liable.
- With files from Jackie Perez, CTV News Ottawa