Chelsea, Quebec colour controversy fades to black

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by Mark Burgess on July 15, 2009

July 15, 2009 – After her weekend in the media spotlight Manon Leblanc got the desired result from Chelsea, Quebec municipal architecture and planning committee July 13 when she was told she could keep her building the plum colour she had applied without their approval.

July 15 Front Page

July 15 Front Page

Bruce Langer, owner of Doozy Candle, had his proposed paint job passed after bringing his designer along to help with his pitch.

The mood was light and even conciliatory – Leblanc declared that she had become a tourist attraction and Councillor Josh Moon wished her luck with renting her pink building, a task he thought should be considerably easier after free front page coverage in this paper and an Ottawa daily.

Then Langer asked if the approval he’d received came with any strings. He was furious when told that it did.

Langer had refused a request from Chelsea’s building inspector, Michel Beaulne, that he provide a letter of approval for the design from the building’s owner, Mario Rail. Beaulne then asked Rail himself for approval of Langer’s proposed colour scheme of cream and black. Rail allegedly wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the large garage-style doors painted black. Langer was incensed that his landlord was consulted at all.

“(Rail) has not said boo about any decorating issues” in six years, Langer said, adding that he never would have rented the “empty, vacant monstrosity” that houses Doozy Candle if his design and marketing plans were beholden to his landlord.

Langer railed against Beaulne’s interference, wondering why he had bothered to make a presentation and seek the committee’s approval if one of its members was undermining it.

“This calls into question the validity of the entire process,” he said.

Langer accused Beaulne of consulting Rail – the owner of the Epicerie du Parc depanneur in Chelsea – without knowing anything about his lease agreement. Langer said he had never conferred with his landlord about any previous paint jobs.

The issue was not resolved at the meeting. Committee Chair and Deputy Mayor Claude Gervais said that lawyers would have to be consulted.

The next morning, June 14, Langer said Beaulne told him that the committee had approved his application following the meeting, with two stipulations: either Rail approves the design, or the municipality will seek a legal opinion on the landlord-tenant relationship where design issues are concerned.

Municipal spokesperson Charles Cardinal said only the first situation holds. If Rail doesn’t provide a letter of approval, he said, the issue is between him and Langer and “not a municipal problem.”

Cardinal said that since the bylaw was introduced in 2006, all requests put forward by a tenant have required a letter from the owner.

Langer never sought approval for painting in the past but his last paint job was done before the bylaw was introduced.

The Low Down was unable to reach Rail at press time.