|EMSB PROCEEDING WITH PLANS TO SELL MONTREAL WEST PROPERTY|
MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 19, 2016– The English Montreal School Board gave official written notice to La Fondation Place Coco in December 2014 that the facility that they presently occupy at 263 Percival in Montreal West will be sold.
“The lease ended on June 30, 2015,” said EMSB Chairman Angela Mancini. “And we informed the tenant more than two years ago that we have plans to sell that building. So while this should come as no surprise, we understand that relocating is not always easy.”
La Fondation Place Coco offers services to children in what used to be the caretaker’s residence behind Elizabeth Ballantyne School in Montreal West. “We have been very supportive of the services that founder Sharon McCarry and her staff provide to the community,” said Mancini. “That’s why we’ve taken so long to get to this point.”
The daycare that La Fondation Place Coco operates is known as the Little Red Playhouse. It offers a pre-school program to both mainstream children and to children with autism. “While costly, we understand that Ms. McCarry’s services for these special needs children are appreciated by parents” said Mancini. “The Ministère de la Famille requires permit applicants to enter into a five year lease with their landlord. But because the EMSB was not able to provide the daycare with a five year lease back in 2014, the administration wrote a letter in support of Ms. McCarry’s application explaining that the building would be sold.”
During the last year, La Fondation Place Coco has made two offers to purchase the Percival property. Unfortunately, both offers had to be refused by the EMSB Council of Commissioners as they were far below the municipal evaluation; and in both offers to purchase, Ms. McCarry stipulated that approximately half of the Elizabeth Ballantyne school yard would be included in the deal, without any additional financial compensation. “We understand that the Little Red Playhouse may want to expand someday. But we can’t sell our school yard right out from under our own students” said Chairman Mancini. “We have a primary responsibility to our own stakeholders. And the Elizabeth Ballantyne Governing Board gave notice that it was not at all in favor.”
The lease was up on June 30, 2015, and the Little Red Playhouse has been occupying the building without paying any rent since that time. And owner Sharon McCarry and her lawyer have made it clear that they will not vacate the premises.
“We have been generous and patient, but the tenant refuses to negotiate in good faith” said Chairman Mancini.
The law requires that a tenant be given one month’s notice, but the EMSB indicated in their December letter that they were willing to give the Little Red Playhouse three additional months to relocate.
The EMSB remains open to discussions to negotiate a mutually satisfactory transitional arrangement. The property also remains available for purchase by the tenant.
Michael J. Cohen