• James Armstrong and Carmen Marie Fabio

Project to save Hudson’s Sandy Beach dead in the water


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

More than two decades of wrangling over the fate of Sandy Beach and surrounding undeveloped land continues as a plan for its future falls apart.

A project to save Hudson’s Sandy Beach from development proposed by local residents William Nash and Daniel Gautier came to an end on December 6, 2016 as revealed in an interview this week.

“Our objective was to buy a section of the land and maintain it as a park,” said Nash while Gautier recounted doing extensive work with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to see if they were willing to get involved because of wetland and natural habitat in the area. According to Gautier, the NCC responded negatively because they are involved in preserving much larger tracts of land although they were willing to assist in finding partners to purchase the property.

Currently, a narrow strip of waterfront property on the Ottawa River stretching from Jack Layton Park to Sandy Beach is protected by a servitude that gives the town the right to use the beach and maintain trails in that area. “So far, the servitude has worked but the town does not own the beach,” said Gautier. What he and Nash were proposing was the purchase of a larger piece of land including the beach to preserve it in its natural state as a park.

“The town was very helpful – they did their part,” said Nash. Mayor Ed Prévost and the councillors agreed to a meeting with Nash, Gautier, and the landowner Hans-Karl Muhlegg in mid-November, 2016. Nash and Gautier said they came away from that meeting thinking there would be a future meeting to clarify a price for the land in question and they would have ample time to organize the financing of the purchase.

Instead, the pair received a letter written on behalf of Muhlegg by registered urban lobbyist Marc Perreault informing them that if they wished to purchase the property a serious offer must be deposited with the owners by December 20, 2016. The letter stated Muhlegg wants to go forward with a residential project but was willing to consider an offer to purchase that reflects the market value of the property.

“It wasn’t possible for us to do that in such a short period of time,” said Nash. “They were not acting in good faith and not discussing it with us in good faith,” he added. As far as he and Gautier are concerned, their project is over.

Muhlegg explained his position in an interview earlier this week. “I bought the land between 1985 and 1987,” he said. “There are plans that date from 2001 for a residential development.” According to Muhlegg, the potential offer discussed with Nash and Gautier was not enough. Although he did not confirm a construction date, Muhlegg noted there were environmental and technical issues that needed to be resolved and detailed plans for the project presented to the town.

During the Town Council Meeting on Monday January 16, Mayor Ed Prévost said that presentation of the Muhlegg residential project to the town is planned for February 2017.

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