Matt McDougall of Moviemat continues his court battle with Mike Asselin, the Town of Renfrew’s director of development and works.
The town asked McDougall to provide a site-plan application for his business at 785 O’Brien Rd. last year, but he has yet to do so.
Out of the 864-square-foot building he continues to rent videos and sell sports memorabilia and adult videos. He relocated Moviemat to that site, from downtown Raglan Street, on Oct. 19, 2012.
Although the town has requested a site-plan application, McDougall says section 41.1 of the Planning Act of Ontario says he’s not required to do so.
McDougall also says the town’s contracted, part-time planner Julie Stewart gave him the green light. More recently, the town announced it has hired a full-time planner to start working Feb. 11, 2013.
Asselin says McDougall is required to submit a site plan because the use of the property at 785 O’Brien Rd. has changed from vacant residential. McDougall has neither submitted a site-plan application nor appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, said Asselin.
The town submitted a stop-work order to McDougall on Oct. 26, 2012, but it has not taken steps to close his business or shut off access to town water, said Asselin.
Asselin says McDougall was invited to resubmit his site plan application from 2004 at no charge, but has not done so. That was an 8,000-square-foot project that was going to cost about $1 million, says McDougall.
McDougall says he pulled back plans in 2004 to expand his business when another video company came to town.
To comment on the impasse with the town, McDougall placed videos on YouTube in late October and November 2012. McDougall’s videos received almost 9,000 views.
Asselin subsequently received a court injunction Dec. 7 to prevent the public viewing of McDougall’s videos.
Prior to the injunction, the director of development and works says he had already sued McDougall for $100,000, for defamation of character, because of the content of those videos.
“Mr. McDougall has disagreed with my interpretation of the bylaws as they relate to his development,” Asselin told The Renfrew Mercury EMC in a written summary of the court action.
“We have made Mr. McDougall aware, in writing, of the application and appeal process. We have not received an application, and rather than following the appeal processes, that were readily available to him, he chose to publish statements on YouTube about my personal and professional integrity. These statements are the subject of the defamation action which the court has yet to rule on.”
The Town of Renfrew is also paying for Asselin’s defence, which McDougall says is troubling, especially when an employee is the plaintiff.
Renfrew clerk Kim Bulmer says legal fees are covered by the town in accordance with a council-approved agreement with all department heads. The agreement guides matters arising from the employee’s performance of duties pertaining to the governing of the Town of Renfrew.
Because of the court action, McDougall says he is selling the family home to acquire more cash to fund the legal battle.
McDougall was to appear in Ottawa’s Ontario Supreme Court Friday, Jan. 25 to determine if the injunction on the YouTube videos would be made permanent or lifted. The case was adjourned. The new court date is expected to be in late February or early March.
Meanwhile, McDougall maintains his own website of www.moviemat.com, where he includes documented correspondence about the legal battle below the headline: Is the Town of Renfrew Trying to Bankrupt & Destroy Small Business in Renfrew?