A dispute between the municipality of La Peche and Masham's France Turcotte was settled out of court. File photo

A dispute between the municipality of La Peche and Masham’s France Turcotte was settled out of court. File photo

An on-going dispute between Valley Mastiff Rescue owner France Turcotte and the Municipality of La Pêche has ended with a $30,000 out-of-court settlement in favour of Turcotte.

Turcotte’s lawyer, Marc Lapointe, told the Low Down that although the settlement papers have not been signed as yet, it is “fairly [certain] that it will be concluded very, very soon.” La Pêche Mayor Robert Bussière reiterated Lapointe’s comments, saying it was a “done deal.” Lapointe said there were conditions with the settlement, but refused to give any details.

Turcotte’s legal case with La Pêche stretches back to July 2014, when the municipality announced it would take legal action against her for not obeying a bylaw that forbade her from running a dog refuge. At the time, Turcotte ran the registered charity Valley Mastiff Rescue from her home in Masham, and had been doing so since 2009. La Pêche had issued permits for the sanctuary up until December 2013, when it admitted the permits had been issued in error and refused to renew them.

Turcotte wouldn’t comment on the settlement figure, but said the charity is still functioning 100 per cent from its rented kennels near her home outside Alexandria, Ontario where she’s lived since the summer of 2014. Turcotte described the larger situation as “really sad,” but said the charity’s work would continue.

When asked whether $30,000 was a fair amount for all the years of mistakes that were made by the municipality, Mayor Bussière said “no comment.” The mayor said he thought an out-of-court settlement was the best way to settle the dispute, adding, “if there wouldn’t have been a mistake, we wouldn’t be here.”

Although Turcotte’s problems with the municipality date back to 2014, the saga between the former Masham resident and her neighbours on Legros Road started with the opening of her shelter in 2009. Turcotte received support for the sanctuary from the likes of Don Cherry, and one of her rescues, Neapolitan Mastiff ‘Sydney’, appeared on the packaging of Simply Pets dental Treats; but her work was offset by bitter neighbourly disputes followed by a bureaucratic mess involving the municipality.

The municipality admitted a permit had been issued twice in error when the words ‘refuge – sanctuary’ were added to what was legally a permit for dog breeding in December 2013. Mayor Bussière told the Low Down in 2014 his hands were tied regarding the matter and he’d suggested Turcotte could apply to have the site zoning amended to accommodate the shelter. But a nasty dispute with neighbours meant that going to a vote in the sector was useless, with Turcotte telling The Low Down at the time she knew she’d lose because her neighbours wanted her out. When La Pêche classified Mastiffs under its dangerous dogs by-law in September 2013 and banned new ownership of the breed, Turcotte saw it as a personal attack.

In March 2014, the Low Down reported that increased tensions with neighbours had, by that point, gone from verbal fights to threats of intimidation from both sides, including neighbours’ threats to lay down bear traps. One incident involved a fake bomb allegedly being placed on Turcotte’s lawn.

Turcotte told the Low Down in 2014 that the situation had caused enormous stress and resulted in the break-up of her relationship. She said the Masham property is still on the market, with the price being dropped from $572,000 to $399,000. Although Legros Road neighbours accused Turcotte and her staff of intimidation, a petition started in March 2014 in support of the rescue centre netted nearly 1,000 signatures in just 24 hours. Valley Mastiff Rescue also won the 2014 Quebec Rescuer of the Year award from Guardian’s Best Animal Rescue Foundation, a Canadian not-for-profit organization.

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Meredith losers win settlement

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by Tess Allen on May 25, 2016

GMR Associés Inc. came out on top of an out-of-court settlement with Chelsea's insurance company over what they believed was an unfairly considered bid for the Meredith Centre. File photo

GMR Associés Inc. came out on top of an out-of-court settlement with Chelsea’s insurance company over what they believed was an unfairly considered bid for the Meredith Centre. File photo

The company whose bid was rejected for the construction of the Meredith Centre is on the winning side of an out-of-court settlement.

A settlement reached on May 17 between Construction GMR Associés Inc. and the Municipality of Chelsea’s insurance company granted GMR “an undisclosed amount,” according to Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green. Green could not reveal the figure due to a confidentiality clause, but Le Droit newspaper reports it as being $460,000, based on documents they obtained. Green did confirm that this was the amount GMR was claiming.

Construction GMR Associés Inc. was suing the municipality based on the claim that its bid was not fairly considered in the bidding process against rival company, Pomerleau.

In an interview with The Low Down, Green said the municipality didn’t even look at Construction GMR Associés Inc.’s bid because its projected construction timeline did not match the municipality’s requirements.

“If [the companies] meet the criteria, then the municipality opens the envelope that has the price in it. When GMR did not conform, the municipality did not even open their envelope to know what their price was. We returned it unopened, so they were not considered,” said Green. “They were contesting our decision to not consider their bid. That’s when GMR chose to sue the municipality and then our insurance company lawyers defended the municipality’s case, so this is covered by our insurance policy.”

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Are quiet times ahead for the covered bridge?

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Tourism study has grand ideas for the Hills

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Body of missing Wakefield senior pulled from Gatineau River

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Anti-trailers threatening legal action

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Development versus darkness in Chelsea

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Bruce Langer used to be greeted by the steeple of St. Stephen’s Parish when coming off Hwy 5 into Chelsea. Over the last few years, with growing municipal development and business expansion, that sight has been replaced by lights. Lots of them. “Over the course of the last few years, some projects have gone up […]

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