Michael’s Bay property sale faces challenge in civil court

­The Pioneer Cemetery sign has disappeared from its well-screwed down position on posts at the entrance to the site. Since there is no sign of the sign on the ground, volunteers cleaning the area believe it may have been carried off.

TORONTO—The status of the historic Michael’s Bay property was to be under dispute in civil court this week. A court date to set a hearing on the property that would force recognition of the offer to purchase accepted by the Belgian Vandromme family was to take place yesterday (Tuesday, June 10) in London.

The Government of Canada on behalf of the Belgian government had seized the property, consisting of several hundred acres including the historic Michael’s Bay town site and the Royal Michael’s Bay Restaurant, as proceeds of crime following the owner’s conviction in the sale of illegal steroids in Europe.

The property is currently under the administration of the federal Seized Property Management Directorate. The property was reportedly set to go under the hammer, but the issue has been clouded by the offer to purchase accepted by the Vandrommes. The property can be sold with the proceeds subject to the Belgian seizure order.

A group headed by developer JM Pellerin has been working toward securing the property with an eye to developing the area as an upscale resort community.

A group of local history buffs, spearheaded by Little Current resident Doug Tracy, has been working to clean up and preserve cemeteries located on the property. Mr. Tracy said that despite receiving permission to conduct the work on the property by the official in charge, an RCMP officer from London recently ordered him off of the property.  “I should have got their card or something,” he said. “They told me that I was trespassing.” Mr. Tracy pointed out that he had permission from the Seized Property Management Directorate to work on the cemeteries.

“They said they would have a letter sent to me,” said Mr. Tracy. “But I haven’t seen it yet.”

Mr. Tracy said that the RCMP officer had told him that the property would be shortly going up for sale.

“They can’t do that,” said Mr. Pellerin. The developer said that he was reluctant to discuss the matter any further, as it was before the courts.

The property dispute was ruled a civil matter by a Superior Court judge in a recent court decision. That decision opened the way for the matter to go before the civil courts.

The court hearing on June 10 was in answer to an application for time in court to be set for a trial on the disposition of the property.

Mr. Pellerin declined to comment on the court case or to discuss the merits of the case, indicating the matter was before the courts and that his legal counsel had advised against discussing the case in the media.

Pierre-Alain Bujold, media contact with the Seized Property Management Directorate, indicated that there would not be enough time to  be able to comment on the issue by Monday’s press deadline.