A worrying end of lease

A worrying end of lease
A worrying end of lease

EVENT. The managers of Expo BBQ Bellechasse, in Saint-Anselme, must deal with a delicate situation as the organization’s long lease, with the Center de services scolaire de la Côte-du-Sud (CSSCS), expires on December 31st. However, this lease will not be renewed and would not be renewable, according to the law.

In a correspondence sent on May 7, the School Service Center explains, in its argument, that there is no right to the renewal of the lease and that the effect of the law will make the School Service Center become the owner again. of the building and all constructions erected on the site on January 1, 2025.

For the entire Expo BBQ board of directors, this approach is nothing short of theft. “The buildings belong to us, but not the land, with the exception of a small part which belongs to the municipality,” explain Roch Roy and Michel Bonneau, respectively president and administrator of Expo BBQ.

“They tell us that, according to the Civil Code, this allows them to regain possession of their land and what is on it free of charge. In other words, $800,000 in assets were stolen. The School Service Center could not purchase the Expo BBQ buildings without authorization from the Minister of Education,” says Roch Roy, visibly worried, adding that the lease was signed in 1989 and renewed in 2009.

According to Michel Bonneau, the legislator is visibly ordering the School Service Center to act in this way. “The law tells them you no longer renew the lease. The legislator had possibly not foreseen organizations like ours. With a farmer, you can tell him to no longer sow in one place, but we have three buildings erected and with all the required authorizations, including those from the School Services Center, when this was done. »

Long-time partners

At the School Service Center, we are confirmed that the expansion project does not affect the premises rented to Expo BBQ. “The Saint-Anselme CFA expansion project does not involve the land and buildings covered by the long lease between the CSSCS and Expo BBQ. It aims to enlarge the garage part where the DEP in agricultural mechanics is given since the current garage is designed to accommodate two groups whereas we currently have three and requests for registration in this program are growing. explains Isabelle L’arrivee-Lavoie from CSSCS.

It still indicates that the lease cannot be renewed, despite everything. “There is nothing in the law that allows us to do that. The CSSCS is in discussions with Expo BBQ regarding the rental of spaces under the terms of the lease. Everything is going well, but nothing is officially concluded. »

The Agricultural Training Center already uses two of the buildings owned by Expo BBQ to store certain equipment, for an annual rental paid to Expo BBQ. Some reports suggest that certain leaders of the School Service Center have other aspirations.

“The CFA does not have enough space in its garage to store its machinery. He gives us around $20,000 annually to do it in two of our buildings. They may be thinking that when the lease is over, the buildings will be theirs and they will no longer have to pay rent. There is a huge financial challenge for us, in financing our activities, if we add the winter storage income which brings us nearly $45,000,” explains Michel Bonneau.

Sign or don’t sign

For Roch Roy, certain elements of the correspondence of May 7 are worrying and clearly indicate the intentions of the School Service Center. “We are being told about working together for a transition whose duration remains to be determined. If the expansion of the CFA does not affect our buildings, what will it be in 5 or 10 years? They may need other things and we will no longer have any income. »

This situation makes the board of directors very worried and suspicious of the litigation that is emerging and which even threatens the survival of the event. “We are in danger, that’s clear,” confirm our two speakers. “They say our buildings are worth $800,000, that’s the property assessment. Reconstructing these buildings elsewhere costs at least $5 million, with all that that entails. Our first presidents endorsed for the construction of these buildings. We can’t have this stolen. It belongs to all exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers and visitors. It’s not because it’s legal that it’s moral,” adds Michel Bonneau.

In summary, Expo BBQ wonders if the relevance of signing any agreement with the School Service Center exists. The problem was addressed to the municipality of Saint-Anselme, to the Member of Parliament for Bellechasse Stéphanie Lachance and to the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, whose intervention will perhaps be the only possible solution.

“Morally, how could the Ministry of Education steal $800,000 from a non-profit organization, via one of its entities, when it had given permission to settle on its land in the past? We are not outlaws. We have always had permission from our partners, municipal and school, to do so,” asks Michel Bonneau in closing.

Expo BBQ will be in its 39th edition this year, from July 3 to 7. The organizing committee will do it again with its traditional Thursday dinner where the agricultural family of the year, the Marquis-Dion family, will be honored. Tailgate will return the next day, followed by a wrestling gala. The traditional BBQ Chicken Dinner will be part of the Sunday program, as will essentials like the young breeders and the Jersey and Holstein judging.

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