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Opening comments:  More at the end.

    Do not recall seeing this in the Mississauga (Missing News), News.

    As this law suite is being brought against Hazel by people who can afford to buy justice in Canada courts.
I originally thought this matter would be settled out of court, paid off with taxpayers money and we will not hear are the gory details court but from what the word on the street is now  (Oct. 2005), the developer wants have their day in court & fight it out!
We can only hope.

Details of case that have been filed are here.


Provincial realty arm hit with $20M suit
Developer alleges Mayor McCallion affected land deal

Sues Mississauga, dealership, realty corporation

A Toronto developer is alleging the Ontario government's real estate arm backed off on a multi-million-dollar sale of public land near Highway 401 in Mississauga after political interference from Mayor Hazel McCallion.

A. Mantella & Sons Ltd. is suing Ontario Realty Corp., the City of Mississauga and Dixie Ford Sales for $20 million in damages for their alleged role in stopping the sale of a 10.3-hectare parcel for $4.82 million almost two years ago.

The three defendants deny the claim and Dixie has filed a counterclaim, charging Mantella caused subsequent flooding on the auto dealership's adjacent property.

ORC also notes in its defence that Mantella is complaining because the developer can't make a "windfall" profit on government land at the expense of Ontario taxpayers.

In an amended statement of claim, Mantella says ORC invited bids for the controversial parcel at the southeast corner of Dixie Rd. and Highway 401 from neighbouring landowners in October, 2002.

But Mantella says the provincial agency abruptly rejected the firm's offer a few weeks later and didn't sell the property.

Mantella, which wants to construct a large commercial-industrial complex on the site and its own adjacent land, says the provincial agency did not provide any explanation for its Nov. 15, 2002 decision, except that it needed to conduct a second environmental study regarding possible road access to the land.

However, Mantella alleges a top official for Dixie Ford, the only other adjacent landowner, contacted McCallion and enlisted the Mississauga mayor's assistance in using "her power" to induce Ontario Realty not to sell the parcel between late October and Nov. 15 of that year.

Mantella's claim, which has not been proven in court, charges that McCallion communicated directly with ORC president Tony Miele.

Those discussions "did lead and/or were a substantive contributing factor which led the ORC to reject the Mantella offer in breach of the ORC's obligations under the invitation to tender," the claim notes.

The amended claim, filed recently in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, alleges ORC breached obligations under the agency's own statutory rules, didn't act fairly and abused its authority.  The City of Mississauga and Dixie Ford induced a breach of contract, wrongly interfered and conspired against Mantella, the claim states.

Mantella also says ORC, which manages provincial government lands and buildings, has refused more than 1 1/2 years later to disclose the appraisal for the property, the second environmental study or other information suggesting its offer was below fair market value.

The city confirms in its statement of defence that Ainslie Hogan, a top Dixie Ford official, contacted McCallion about the bid invitation.  The dealership, which has leased 1 hectare of the parcel for several years from ORC to park vehicles, wanted only that portion and expressed concern about the impact on the business if Mantella purchased it, the city's defence says.

It adds McCallion tried to contact Miele on Nov. 15 about the property's status, but she couldn't recall whether there was a conversation.

The municipality says the mayor, who regularly receives concerns about land planning issues, and other unidentified individuals met with Miele in mid-December, 2002 to ask about ORC's intentions regarding the parcel and relay Dixie Ford's concerns.

"It was the mayor's understanding from Mr. Miele that there was no contract between the ORC and the plaintiff," the city says.  It denies McCallion conspired with Hogan to induce ORC or Miele to breach an alleged contract with Mantella.

McCallion also didn't say anything to influence Miele or anyone else regarding ORC's dealings with Mantella that would have affected the bid process for the land and an alleged contract, the city says.

In its defence, ORC says it was not bound by any offer and followed all government guidelines. The agency also discloses that two Dixie Ford proposals for pieces of the parcel did not meet sale guidelines while a Mantella bid was "compliant but unacceptable."

ORC says Mantella took a risk in 2000 when the firm bought the neighbouring property hoping to buy the government land eventually.  "A more accurate description of the plaintiff's (Mantella's) complaint is that it has been denied the opportunity to make a substantial windfall profit by obtaining government-owned property at a deeply discounted price at the expense of the taxpayers of Ontario," ORC charges.

Dixie Ford supports ORC in the decision to not sell the property, saying in its defence that the Mantella offer did not reflect the potential of the government lands with road access.  Furthermore, the Mantella bid was less than market value even without the road, Dixie says.

Dixie adds it didn't engage in any conspiracy and couldn't induce ORC to breach a contract because there was no deal.

In its counterclaim, Dixie is suing Mantella for $1 million for allegedly twice blocking a watercourse, causing flood damage at the dealership.  It calls Mantella's conduct "high-handed."


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