Judge orders demolition of Gatineau mansion after 8-year saga
Multi-million-dollar home at 79 Fraser contravenes city's municipal zoning bylaws
A Quebec superior court judge says a mansion in Gatineau, Que., must be demolished because it violates the city's zoning bylaws.
In a 51-page decision rendered Tuesday, Judge Michel Déziel decided to quash a July 2014 council resolution granting a minor exemption for the home at 79 chemin Fraser in the city's Aylmer sector.
The judicial and administrative saga began about eight years ago when it was determined the home contravened city planning regulations and was built too close to the street.
Yet the home's owner, Patrick Molla, had all the required construction permits.
An internal investigation at the city concluded Molla was given the permits due to human error as the official who granted the permit in May 2013 erred by not knowing article 116 of the city's zoning bylaws. That article establishes a minimum distance between a home and the street.
Many residents on the street complained the home's construction was out of step with the character of the rest of the neighbourhood.
In his decision the judge stated the city, in wanting to protect itself and fix its employee's error, had completely concealed the damage the homeowner and his neighbours suffered.
The lawyer representing various neighbours said his clients are satisfied with the judge's decision.
"They are especially relieved that this process has come to an end. It was very long, very difficult," Sébastien Gélineau told Radio-Canada, adding one of the neighbours died in the years it took to move through the courts.
He said the judge appeared to have accepted the evidence pointing to the bad faith of the City of Gatineau and other stakeholders, but it is rare to order a home's destruction.
In his decision the judge pointed out the city, which had asked the court not to demolish the home, offered no alternative solutions.
The city did not indicate whether it planned to appeal and only stated its legal department is reviewing the decision.
Molla has filed a $3.6-million lawsuit against the city because he considers himself facing an untenable situation. He told Radio-Canada his relationship with neighbours is strained, his home has lost value, and he can no longer enjoy the house of his dreams he built years ago.
WIth files from Radio-Canada's Nathalie Tremblay