Appeal At The Junction
Even though I believe that in their heart of hearts they knew that the City would appeal, nevertheless it had to be a real shock to learn that the City wants to overturn what a judge found IE namely that their premises should be "grandfathered" under the entertainment lounge bylaw.
If the issue is as narrow as that, it seems to me that it is a question of fact that would be very difficult to appeal. If that is the case, then why is the City doing it? Why incur more legal fees?
The Mayor stated that the Junction should have sought a rezoning.
- "Francis called it a zoning application issue and said a majority of council feels the owners are trying to bypass the usual application process by winning in court."
If that is the case, then how does one explain this:
- "Sofos said that Escape Cafe on Riverside Drive recently opened and offers music and dancing and he wants to be treated equally.
But Postma said Escape was allowed to open because it was grandfathered as a result of its prior use when it was known as Chris and Draga's."
In July, 2007
- "At a meeting on Tuesday, five out of nine city councillors voted against the motion that Sofos must submit an application to rezone his property as an "entertainment lounge" -- a procedure that could take four to six months."
However, Sofos claimed over a year ago that there was no point in going for a rezoning:
- "But Sofos said that isn't going to happen.
"They (administration) have said even if you reapply for rezoning that it's not going to be recommended," he said."
Chuck Faubert said
- "(City administrators) have already told us in writing they will not approve it. So why go to PAC?"
If what Sofos and Faubert say is true, and I do not know if it is or it is not, then it seems to me that the Mayor is being disingenuous with his comment.
I expect that one of the reasons for the appeal is because the Junction owners are suing for one and a half million half dollars for damages against the City including, bad faith. If the Judge's decision was left standing, it would probably mean liability on the City's part although the extent of the damages would have to be proved.
There seems to be an air of vindictiveness about all this that I don't understand. It appeared that Councillors wanted to help out some small businessmen who were going to create 15 to 30 new jobs in a part of the City that doesn't have too many businesses open. If you will recall the Star story back in 2007:
- "One of the options presented by administration to council Monday was to grant the Junction a one-year business license which would allow the restaurant to be reviewed annually.
Council appeared poised to do just that, but then Mayor Eddie Francis took the unusual step of removing himself from the chair of Monday's meeting in order to strongly oppose the option, which had been proposed by Coun. Fulvio Valentinis."
In an other story:
- "Coun. Caroline Postma, whose ward includes the Junction property, said "if George applies for an amended use as a public hall and gets it in front of council, I'm sure he'd be successful because he has support there...
Faubert said seven or eight city councillors have already toured the building and have said they support his plans.
If Councillors were willing to help, then why would they vote for an appeal? Are they nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites who will say one thing in public but do something else in private?
I could never understand why the Mayor was so interested in this file such that he would take such a dramatic step. Accordingly, he is front and centre in this matter and will have to answer for his actions during the lawsuit I am sure.
I cannot help but feel that there is more to this than meets the eye. After all, the Junction's location is prime since it is a large property with lots of parking, about nine or 10 blocks west of the downtown and a little bit more further east of the University. I believe that it is also on a bus route so it is readily accessible to those who do not have a vehicle.
I pointed out previously, that the Junction offered their site for a Museum for the City and in fact had prepared plans to do so. If the long-term facility is ever built at the Grace Hospital Site, then the Junction's location makes it ideal for a number of possible uses.
Here is what is so foolish about all of this. Read this comment about the closing of Grace Hospital and what it has done to the neighbourhood:
- "[Councillor]Jones said the deterioration of the surrounding streets is a "domino effect," in which the root cause was the hospital's closure.
He hopes the redevelopment will spur a similarly infectious neighbourhood revival.
"I see the light at the end of the tunnel for this area," said Jones. "People are interested in doing something to rebuild the core."
Here are two men who want to help rebuild the area and instead of trying to work out a solution with them, the Mayor and Council are dragging them through the legal system.
Only in Windsor!