Mont-Saint-Hilaire: a haunted mansion for the City
Citizens of Mont-Saint-Hilaire believe they have been given a poisoned gift with the donation by a Quebec multi-millionaire of the iconic Manoir Rouville-Campbell, which costs a fortune to maintain.< /strong>
Mont-Saint-Hilaire accepted the gift of the famous mansion last year from a holding of André Imbeau, one of the co-founders of the computer giant CGI.< /p>
The Imbeau family acquired it themselves from comedian Yvon Deschamps in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.
In return, a firm of Mr. Imbeau was given by the City in 2022 a tax receipt of $ 31 million. The City was delighted to receive what it described as a jewel, but citizens and an elected official believe that it was passed on a Christmas tree.
Marcel Lebœuf, actor and elected official < p>“The City does not have to manage the mansion to make it profitable. I don't want it to become a burden for the citizens,” worries city councilor Marcel Lebœuf.
Although he voted in favor of accepting the donation, the one who is the only elected not to be from the mayor's party has regrets.
“We are only 19,000 [ inhabitants]”, says the one who is also an actor.
According to a compilation made by the Association of citizens of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, the manor costs more than $1 million per year to the population.< /p>
Its CEO, Pierre Nault, arrives at this figure by including the loss of revenue in taxes, insurance and required maintenance.
“It's a bottomless pit. It goes on, it goes on, and people don't know it. I have nothing against M. Imbeau, but we did not have to come to his aid. Him, he laughs in his beard, he will save maybe $16 million in taxes”, he criticizes.
Over the past few months, the police have had to intervene to chase away people who had illegally entered the site near the Richelieu River. An imposing security device had to be installed.
The Association denounces the few checks that were made before accepting the imposing gift. The City accepted the donation just days after receiving a pre-embryonic condition survey of the building. analysis of financial statements.
The donation itself is not without cost for all Quebec taxpayers. The receipt granted allows you to deduct a lot of tax. Money that will not end up in the public treasury.
“There is […] a significant tax advantage for the company as well as for the shareholder”, points out André Lareau, professor at Laval University. The fact that donated land is considered an eco-gift makes it even more beneficial, he says.
The value of the mansion's donation is much higher than its municipal assessment of $11.1 million . André Imbeau declined to comment.
The Manoir Rouville-Campbell in brief
- 1832 | A descendant of the lord of Rouville, Jean-Baptiste Hertel, built the manor
- 1844 | Major Thomas Edmund Campbell buys it and settles his family there
- 1969 | The painter and sculptor Jordi Bonet acquires it
- 1986 | Transformed into a luxury hotel by a businessman
- 1996 | Yvon Deschamps and Judy Richards acquire it
- 2006 | The mansion is sold to the Imbeau family, of CGI
- 2022 | Up for sale for $28M before being donated to the City of Mont-Saint-Hilaire
Yvon Deschamps was tired of managing the buildingThe security device surrounding the site had to be reinforced after intrusions by curious people in recent months.
Comedian Yvon Deschamps and his wife, Judy Richards, were surprised to see the City in control of Manoir Rouville–Campbell, which they owned and operated for ten years, from 1996 to 2006.
“The public didn't know about the mansion, we put it on the map with shows,” she says.
Despite this success, managing the mansion was difficult.
“It was fabulous, but it didn't make any money. Any surplus went for maintenance. There was always something going on,” she said.
“After 10 years, you get tired. It's everyday, it's employees, she illustrated. Bit by bit, you get tricked a little.”
Working 24 hours a day
The mayor says he received a call from Yvon Deschamps to know what was going to happen.
These comments echo those of Michel Barrette, who sold his interest in the Auberge des Trois Tilleuls in 2020.
“Life is simpler since I'm more into it; 90% of the conversations I had with my wife during all those years were about the hotel […]. It's 24 hours a day,” he confides.
The mayor feared a sale to an oligarch
The security system surrounding the site had to be reinforced after curious intrusions in recent months.
Marc-André Guertin, mayor of Mont-Saint-Hilaire
The mayor of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Marc-André Guertin, defends the acceptance of the donation of the emblematic Manoir Rouville-Campbell, which would have could otherwise fall into the hands of unscrupulous people, according to him.
“We observe in Mont-Saint-Hilaire that there are rich residences, properties of foreign citizens or others, which are not inhabited. […] This is the scenario that we feared the most, that an oligarch acquires it and that it is never used or even worse, ”he explains.
He says that Quebec real estate is currently used by wealthy people almost like a bank account to park money.
“Would you have taken the risk of not being given 30 million $? We preferred the risk of audacity and rigor rather than this somewhat sterile kind of precaution,” he says.
Committee of Experts
The mayor says he relies on a “committee of wise men” made up of 11 people to help him determine the future of the heritage manor.
Press secretary to the Minister of Justice and deputy de Borduas, Simon Jolin-Barrette, confirmed that he participated in a few meetings concerning the future of the manor. According to a report by architects, there was talk of installing a blue space in the building.
The former Liberal minister and CEO of the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), Liza Frulla, also attended two consultation meetings before the holidays, she said, but she denied sitting on the committee due to his busy schedule.
The mayor did not want to give figures in an interview regarding the costs.
However, he speaks of an incredible potential for development.
“Right now, we have to assume all the responsibilities of an owner”, he acknowledges, saying that this is temporary.
“There will have to be commercial uses”, he mentions about the future vocation of the manor, excluding the idea of installing the town hall there . “We can't afford to support a mansion of this size without there being revenue inflows,” he concedes.
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