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McGill acquires Four Points

Hotel will be converted to a residence, unbeknownst to striking workers

McGill University will purchase the Four Points Sheraton Hotel on Sherbrooke, just east of Aylmer, for an undisclosed sum. The hotel will close on April 17, likely leaving enough time to house students next fall.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a member of the administration made the following statement to The Daily: “We have an agreement to purchase the property called the Four Points Hotel on Sherbrooke Street, which will become part of our residences’ offering.” 

The administrator refused to comment further, and Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson was unavailable for comment before press time.

Confirmation of the purchase followed brief comments by Principal Heather Munroe-Blum at Senate Wednesday stating that the Board of Governors – the University’s highest governing body – had agreed to purchase another residence because it would be more financially responsible than renting spaces to satisfy heightened demand for on-campus housing, as  McGill has done this year, such as at 515 Ste. Catherine.

Built in 1974, the Four Points Sheraton is a 20-storey, four-star hotel with 196 guest rooms and 13 meeting rooms. It was valued for property tax purposes on February 28 at $13-million, and belongs to the Mississauga-based Northampton Group, which owns 17 hotels in the U.S. and Canada.

The hotel has been in the press this year because employee members of Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) and the Syndicat des Travailleur(euses) en Télécommunications (STT) have been on strike since  August 25.

A press release issued Tuesday by the CSN, a union federation associated with Four Points staff’s union, highlighted 150 members of the STT joining the hotel’s striking workers on the street and had Jean Lortie – the president of the Fédération du commerce, a grouping of hotel workers and other unions – calling the hotel one of the worst employers in the hotel industry.

“It is not true that we are going to retreat on all fours,” Fustel Dossous, the president of the SST, said in French in the press release. “We want a good collective agreement, and we will have one.”

When informed of the University’s statement, Sylvio Morin, a spokesperson for the CSN, could not contain his astonishment.

“It’s news to me,” said Morin, who then said he needed 30 minutes to discuss with other union members. Morin later relayed Lortie’s reaction.

“We are treating it as a rumour, so we are not commenting at this time,” Lortie was quoted as saying

The Daily called the hotel Friday asking for a reservation in September, however, and the hotel receptionist immediately said the hotel would be closed. When asked whether this was due to the strike, the receptionist, who would not give her name, concurred.

After being informed the hotel was no longer accepting reservations after April 17 due to the hotel’s closure, Morin refused to comment further.

The Daily visited the hotel later that day, and though a staff member at the reception said that he received a phone message from The Daily, he “knew nothing,” and would “keep working,” asking The Daily to call back later.

Vinnie Patel, the CEO of the Northhampton Group, refused to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement between his company and the University.