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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Mayor Régis Labeaume could face legal action over the city’s delay in expropriating the historic Maison Pollack on Grande Allée.

Local lawyer and former municipal politician François Marchand last week filed a request to the Commission municipale du Québec to investigate the lack of action by the mayor.

In the request, Marchand notes that on Dec. 19, 2019, city council unanimously approved an amount of $603,000 to acquire the mansion, designed by distinguished architect René-Pamphile Lemay and once owned and occupied by Maurice Pollack, the prominent merchant and philanthropist.

The current owner, Stevens Coulombe, a Montreal developer, has been fined repeatedly for failure to maintain the building, which features tall white columns supporting a large balcony.

Marchand claims in the application that under the Cities and Towns Act, “the mayor must see that the bylaws and ordinances of the council be ‘faithfully and impartially carried out.’”

Despite this obligation, Marchand claims Labeaume has violated “the law and refuses or neglects to carry out the will of the council.” Marchand has asked for sanctions against the mayor, “namely a reprimand or a suspension not to exceed 90 days.”

Marchand told the QCT that “urgent action is needed” to save Maison Pollack. “If nothing is done, it will suffer the same fate as Église Saint-Coeur-de-Marie,” he said, referring to the distinctive church further down Grande Allée that sat empty for years, falling into disrepair, before it was demolished last year. A condo project slated for that site is on hold while the property owner sues the city in a case to be heard in March.

Marchand said, “Development pressure is strong on Grande Allée, but development must not come at the expense of heritage buildings such as Maison Pollack.”

“The city authorized the construction of a Tim Hortons in front of the Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge while it neglects buildings that make the city so rich and beautiful. Too many heritage buildings have been demolished in Quebec,” Marchand added.

Inquiries by the QCT found the city filed a motion of expropriation to the Superior Court of Quebec in late August but, as of this writing, no date has been set for the case to be heard.

Meanwhile, the building, designated as of high heritage value by the city, continues to deteriorate, with the columns badly rotted and the balcony, supported by scaffolding, starting to crumble.

The mansion, originally built for businessman James McCarthy in 1910, has been abandoned and unoccupied for 10 years.

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