Rothmar Sues the City of Cornwall For $20 Million

Provided by Edelman Canada
Rothmar Sues the City of Cornwall For $20 Million
Echo Trends is one of several businesses affected by the permit issue between Rothmar Holdings and the City of Cornwall. (Photo : Krystine Therriault/Seaway News)

City, senior employees show complete disregard to Rothmar and Cornwall residents and businessowners

Rothmar Holding Inc. and affiliated companies (“Rothmar”) – all owned by local Cornwall developer Aaron Bell – have launched a $20 million dollar lawsuit against the Corporation of the City of Cornwall and two senior City Hall employees, Mark Boileau and Charles Bray.

Rothmar $20 million in damages as a result of the Defendants’ abuse of their municipal powers. In the claim, Rothmar alleges that Boileau and Bray misused their powers as government officials of Cornwall to interfere with Rothmar’s property development activities in Cornwall. This included by specifically abusing the City’s building permit application process.

The Defendant, Mr. Boileau, is the City’s Acting Chief Administrative Officer (“CAO”).  Prior to that he served as the City’s General Manager of Planning, Development and Recreation, overseeing the City’s Building Department its Planning Division. The Defendant, Mr. Bray, is the City’s Chief Building Official (“CBO”). Mr. Bray is ultimately responsible for the issuing of building permits to applicants like Rothmar. At all times, Mr. Boileau has held a supervisory role over Mr. Bray.

Mr. Bell, the President and CEO of Rothmar, has advised “I am very disappointed that it has come to this. I love Cornwall and have been dedicated to helping to revitalize this City. I never wanted to sue the City, but my business is being eviscerated. If I don’t stand up for my rights as a developer in this City, then I don’t see how any of Cornwall’s residents can trust its government.”

Other Court Proceedings

Before bringing the lawsuit seeking $20 million in damages, Rothmar was also forced to commence four related court proceedings to reverse the decisions of the City’s Building Department on five building permit applications that the City denied on erroneous grounds.

In these four related court proceedings, the evidence of the City’s witnesses provided that Bray was “more or less the lead” on the properties “that Rothmar was trying to develop.”

Bray’s evidence included that his role as Chief Building Official did not include the “economic development” of Cornwall. Bray testified “I don’t do revitalization.”  When asked whether the development of the City is somebody else’s job, Bray testified simply “Yeah.”

Bray acknowledged his power over the building permitting process in Cornwall. On cross-examination, he agreed that no one can tell him what to do as CBO when it comes to enforcement of the Building Code within Cornwall. Further, Bray swore that, in his time as CBO, he has issued “about seven to 800 permits per year” and that the only building permit that he has ever revoked was one issued to Rothmar by the Deputy CBO on a day Mr. Bray was out of the office. The Deputy CBO, Chris Roelofs, testified that Mr. Bray never explained to him why he revoked the Rothmar building permit.

Mr. Bell: “I determined that I needed to bring the $20 million suit after hearing the concerning evidence that the City employees gave in these other court proceedings that showed complete disregard by City officials for not only me and my company but for the residents and businesses of the City of Cornwall as a whole.”

Freedom of Information Requests

In addition, Mr. Bell has been forced to seek answers about the City’s conduct by submitting Freedom of Information requests to the City of Cornwall. Rothmar has received very little in response, including thousands of blacked out pages.

Peter Henein, lead counsel in all of these legal proceedings, states that “The public is entitled to know how municipal government decisions are made, who is making them and what is being considered. Rothmar sought documents from the City of Cornwall to understand how city decisions affecting it were being made.  Cornwall’s answer was a number of documents already in Rothmar’s possession, 3500 pages entirely withheld and 17 partially blacked out pages. That doesn’t meet even the most generous definition of government transparency.”

Share this article