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Residents near old motel in Longueuil, Que., tired of unsightly debris pile, smell and rats

Francine Leroux lives in Longueuil, Que., across the street from the site of the former Motel Oscar. She wants it cleaned up. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Francine Leroux lives in Longueuil, Que., across the street from the site of the former Motel Oscar. She wants it cleaned up. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Francine Leroux doesn't mince words when talking about the massive debris pile near her home on Montreal's South Shore.

"It's disgusting," said Leroux, who has lived nearby for more than two decades. "We even have rats. There must have been rats in there, because we never saw a rat, and now we see them."

She was talking about the remnants of Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Longueuil, Que. Where there was once a vintage motor inn, there is now a pile of crumbling concrete, scrap metal and wood surrounded by a temporary construction fence.

The pile has been sitting on the site for seven months — ever since a series of fires led to the building's final demise last summer. And it's not just the unsightliness and rats that are upsetting residents but the smell too.

"It smells like asbestos when I walk my dogs," said Taliesin Hay, who has lived across from the motel for five years. "Especially after rain, I can't sleep with the window open."

Leroux also complained of the post-rain odour, and she has even seen people dumping their own garbage on the pile of debris. She misses the time when the Motel Oscar was an institution in the neighborhood, attracting American tourists and film producers.

The Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Brossard Que., was demolished long ago. But a pile of debris is an ugly reminder that the work is not finished. Residents say it should be cleaned up.
The Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Brossard Que., was demolished long ago. But a pile of debris is an ugly reminder that the work is not finished. Residents say it should be cleaned up.

The Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Longueuil, Que., was demolished seven months ago, but the debris pile remains. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Built in 1947, Motel Oscar was family owned until 2017. Several feature films were shot on site, including Lance et Compte in 2010 and Omertà in 2012. Scenes in television series such as Série noire and Fugueuse were shot there as well.

In 2017, the motel was sold to the numbered company 9301-7275 Québec Inc., whose primary shareholder is another numbered company, 9437-6878 Québec Inc. Both belong to real estate developer Lingbo Du, who operates under the name Habitations Dessoleils, mainly on the South Shore.

After its purchase by Lingbo Du, the motel was shut down and, aside from squatters, it has been unoccupied ever since.

In January 2023, part of the building was damaged by fire. There was a second fire in June and then another in August. Finally, Longueuil's fire safety service demolished the motel.

Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Brossard, Que., was demolished long ago but the debris is an eyesore to residents who live nearby.
Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Brossard, Que., was demolished long ago but the debris is an eyesore to residents who live nearby.

Motel Oscar on Taschereau Boulevard in Longueuil, Que., has a landmark sign that is highly visible from the boulevard. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Since then, Longueuil hasn't been ignoring the debris pile. Municipal documents show the motel's owner has been issued 32 notices of offence totalling over $40,000. Those fines are for failure to secure the site and for the debris pile.

Longueuil spokesperson Louis-Pascal Cyr said residents are right to be impatient.

"We are too, but we're doing everything to get the owner to comply," he said.

He said the city wants the owner to clean up the site, because Longueuil will not take on that responsibility. That said, he added, the city is working with Lingbo Du on other projects, and is therefore acting judiciously in this matter.

At the same time, he said, the municipal administration wants the site cleaned up to deter potential delinquent property owners from doing the same. Any further intervention would require a court order, and at this point, the city is not taking that step.

Lingbo Du did not respond to a request for comment.