Judge dismisses boarded-up house suit

CBC News

A superior court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the City of Windsor, the mayor and councillors brought on by the Canadian Transit Company, which owns the Ambassador Bridge, and property owners who call themselves the “Boarded Up Houses Demolition Action Group.”

Justice Richard Gates has also awarded costs to the city mayor and councillors. The city’s legal bill totals more than $2 million. The Canadian Transit Company and action group will have to jointly pay the costs.

The residents’ group is comprised of 200 people, including Coun. Hilary Payne.

The group and Canadian Transit Company argued an “improperly” passed interim demolition control by-law prevented the Ambassador Bridge Company from demolishing vacant and boarded up houses it owns along Indian Road.

They also claimed the city has unnecessarily imposed a heritage designation on the area, which restricts what they can do with their homes.

Gates said the city acted in good faith and in transparency, contrary to the bridge company’s assertion that city council had made illegal decisions in camera.

Mayor Eddie Francis is pleased with what he calls a “strongly worded decision.”

“It says very clearly and states very definitively that the city operated and did everything that a city would be expected to do and that is to protect the interests and advance the interests of the community and of its residents,” Francis said.

Gates called the bridge’s arguments “disingenuous” to the point of being “arguably an abuse of process.”

The judge said some of the issues raised contain many untested allegations and suppositions without substantial proof.

He believes the Ontario Municipal Board would have been a more appropriate course of action to consider the bylaws.

Judge Gates added the Canadian Transit Company has attempted to challenge the integrity of council and its process as a means of diverting attention from its relentless efforts to advance its own economic interests.