Limousine service operator says Laval is singling him out

‘It’s been ten years that I’m parking here,’ says Milad Abdul-Sater

Limousine service operator says Laval is singling him out
Milad Abdul-Sater says that in the ten years he’s lived on his street, it was only recently that he received a complaint.
Martin C. Barry

A man who operates a small limousine service out of a residential neighbourhood in Laval-des-Rapides says he wants to know why the City of Laval is singling him out for violating a zoning by-law, when he’s not doing anything differently from other Laval-based limousine operators.

Milad Abdul-Sater’s situation was one of the more than 500 cases dealt with last year by the Laval Ombudsman’s office. Abdul-Sater has also pleaded with Mayor Marc Demers to look into his situation during public question periods at recent city council meetings.

Neighbour’s complaint

As spelled out in the Laval Ombudsman’s annual report which was released recently, one of Abdul-Sater’s neighbours filed a complaint with the city. The neighbour maintained that the operation of a limousine business, even a small one, was incompatible with the neighbourhood’s “residential” zoning and character.

According to the Ombudsman’s report, the neighbour was also unhappy about the fact the city had refused to intervene. The Ombudsman concluded that “the usage being made by the owners of the property did not correspond to the domestic use of office type, as defined by article 16 of By-law L-2000.”

Ombudsman’s report

She recommended to the city’s urban planning service that they end the commercial usage in a fashion as to uphold the “strictly residential character of the sector,” the report stated. For his part, Abdul-Sater thinks By-law L-2000 is arbitrary in that it forbids parking of vehicles larger than a certain size, while overlooking others such as small school buses.

“The inspector came to my house, to the driveway, and said, ‘You’re not allowed to park in the driveway,’” Abdul-Sater said in an interview with the Laval News. “I said, ‘How come? It’s been ten years that I’m parking here. What’s the problem?’ He says there is a law, By-law L-2000: 16 feet and 6 inches you’re not allowed to park. And he says that’s a rule that goes back 50 years.”

More than meets the eye

However, Abdul-Sater maintains there’s much more to the situation than is spelled out in the municipal regulations and the Ombudsman’s report. He painted a picture involving neighbours, some of whom were operating businesses out of homes, but who evidently weren’t seeing eye to eye.

Among the businesses that have been operating from residences in the neighbourhood, Abdul-Sater maintained, was one a few houses away from his own, where the owner, he claimed, was running an automotive garage and detailing service. And Abdul-Sater was in a position to know: he did business himself with the neighbour, whom he hired at one point as a driver for one of his limousines.

‘Business within a business’

But then, according to Abdul-Sater, they had a falling out. The neighbour, it seems, started creating what Abdul-Sater calls a “business within a business,” in other words promoting a venture of his own while driving the boss’s limousine.

“During his work he started to give out his business card – body work, paint, interiors and car wash,” he said. “He used to do the maintenance of all my limos: changing oil, winter tires, summer tires, cleaning inside, outside, paint treatments, waxing, everything.” There was a falling-out between the two over ways of doing business and Abdul-Sater said he terminated his employment.

Home business operators

In the meantime, said Abdul-Sater, another neighbour, also operating a home business, although of a type considered acceptable by the city in a residential environment, had a dispute of his own over spacing between their properties. “The two merged together to give me a hard time,” he said, maintaining the complaint about his vehicles was their doing.

But in the end, the home garage operator himself ended up being given a warning by the city and the garage has been closed since then. Abdul-Sater has also been issued warnings about his limousines, but no fines up to this point. But in the meantime, he is left wondering about a system that allows some business owners to continue operating, while others are subject to municipal by-laws that only seem to kick in when there are complaints.

Limousine service operator says Laval is singling him out
Laval-des-Rapides limousine operator Milad Abdul-Sater, seen here with two warnings received from the city, wants to know why he’s being singled out.