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St. Pat's-Alexandra sale goes to court

City and non-profits battle over selling the surplus school


The contested sale of the St. Pat’s-Alexandra school site was the subject of a two-day hearing in front of Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge David MacAdam this week. Tuesday, lawyer Ron Pink argued that the city’s sale of the property to Juno Developments was improper, and in fact broke the law. He wants MacAdam to invalidate the January 2012 sale, and to go back and follow a surplus school policy that was ignored when the property was sold to Juno. That policy calls for surplus schools to be offered first to non-profits before being put on the market. Wednesday, HRM's lawyer Jocelyn Campbell argued that while the sale didn’t follow council policy, that doesn’t necessitate the reversal of the sale. (This article is being written Wednesday, as Campbell is presenting her side.)

Pink, a partner at Pink-Larkin, is representing the North End Community Health Clinic, the MicMac Native Friendship Centre and the Richard Preston Centre for Excellence Society. The three non-profits would like to use some of the former school buildings to expand their operations; additionally, they say the school site gives them the opportunity to move out of their sub-standard Gottingen Street buildings.

Pink’s argument was two-fold: First, that the act of council breaking its policy was a violation of law, and can be remedied by the court. Second, that the sale to Juno was for a below-market price, and so violated the city charter, which is a separate violation of law that can be remedied by the court.

Campbell, a partner with Cox & Palmer, represents the city (another Cox & Palmer partner, Harry Thompson, represents mayor Peter Kelly in his troubled probate case). She will obviously argue contrary to Pink’s arguments.

Justice MacAdam is expected to rule later this summer.

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