Garage owner refuses to leave, demands more compensation for Royalmount expropriation
Fight dates back to 2017 as mega-mall development pushes forward with construction
Athanasios Azeloglou has fixed cars since he was 10 years old. He says it's all he knows.
But now, he has until Monday to vacate his garage in Town of Mount Royal (TMR), Que., an independent municipality on the island of Montreal, to make way for Carbonleo's mega-mall project Royalmount.
"Blood, sweat and tears I put into this place for 30 years almost and it's more than my home," said Azeloglou.
"I spend more time here than my home."
Since 2017, Azeloglou has been fighting to keep ownership of his garage at 8291 Royden Road.
The property was expropriated by TMR and Azeloglou had been ordered to vacate the premises permanently by February 2020, but he's been fighting and his legal team bought him time.
Finally, the Tribunal administratif du Québec awarded him more than $1.4 million for the property, according to the Town of Mont-Royal, but now he is demanding more. He said the amount offered was pre-pandemic and now the cost of everything has shot up. He said he is not leaving, and will fight to the very end if he has to.
But last month, he was handed an eviction notice — yet again — telling him he has until Monday at 5 p.m. to clear out. Otherwise, the bailiffs will intervene.
Azeloglou bought the property in 1993 and runs three businesses out of it, including a fleet of Montreal taxis.
"Everybody has security. This is my security, my retirement security," he said. "Giving me market value. Basically, I'm not interested."
The opening of the Royalmount residential and commercial complex has been postponed to the summer of 2023 due to the pandemic, putting it one year behind schedule.
But construction has long since started and many of the properties surrounding Azeloglou's have been sold.
"There's a medical building in the back and there's a bank on the corner, which is on the same block. He can't touch them," he said.
"But he can throw me out, push me out by giving me market value."
A spokesperson for the developer said in an email that everything's been done by the book.
"As requested by Mr. Azeloglou's representatives, he received complete payment of a considerable sum for the sale of his building," Anne Dongois said.
According to the court order issued by the Superior Court on Dec. 3, Azeloglou was required to remove all assets and vacate the premises by Dec. 31, at the latest, she said.
"He received compensation to cover all moving fees. The owner of the building allowed Mr. Azeloglou to stay on the premises since May 2019, free of charge," she said.
"We intend to begin the construction shortly and hope for Mr. Azeloglou's full co-operation."
CBC reached out to TMR for comment Friday, but did not get a reply.
with files from CBC's Chloë Ranaldi