Ontario judge grants another permanent injunction in 2 year land dispute

Ontario judge grants another permanent injunction in 2 year land dispute

More than two years after a group of Indigenous protesters began occupying a proposed development area in southwestern Ontario, a provincial court has issued another injunction barring them the land permanently.

In a written decision released this week, Ontario Superior Court Judge Paul Sweeny said Skyler Williams and two other unnamed defendants in the case do not have authority to act on behalf of the Haudenosaunee to exercise contractual rights at the nearby site of Caledonia, Ontario. and Six Nations of the Grand River.

“[The developer]did whatever is required to build the homes on the lots,” Sweeny wrote. “The defendants have no right to occupy the lands.”

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Foxgate Development was on the verge of building 218 homes when Williams and 11 others entered the site in July 2020.

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The group has since maintained a presence, despite previous injunctions and dozens of arrests, setting up a camp and claiming it is on unceded indigenous land.

Lawyers for Williams argued in court in September that the Crown failed to consult with Indigenous communities before allowing Foxgate to build on the land.

A lawyer for Foxgate Developments, meanwhile, argued that it was seeking support from Indigenous leaders to build on the land and that a permanent injunction was needed for development to proceed.

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs and defendants did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Shortly after the occupation began, restraining orders were issued to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the country. Police efforts to clear the site were unsuccessful, violent fighting ensued and nearby roads were barricaded.

Months later, the Supreme Court gave the company planning to build a subdivision on the land and another Haldimand County permanent injunctions barring people from blocking public roads.

Last year, the Ontario Court of Appeals reversed the earlier injunction that had been granted to the company after finding that the judge who issued it discriminated against Williams during the court proceedings when he was asked to participate or present submissions of legal arguments prohibited.

A planned division of the property was canceled by the developer last summer, citing the ongoing land dispute.

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By this time the camp – known as 1492 Land Back Lane – had been established on the proposed development site and included tiny houses, common rooms and gardens.

In his decision, Sweeny also referenced the controversial Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern BC. Construction was stopped a year ago by Indigenous groups blocking access to the camp where Coastal GasLink workers are building the 670-kilometer pipeline.

During that occupation, Sweeny noted, the court said the pipeline company had all the permits required by law and, despite their “sincere conviction,” the defendants had no legal right to block the property.

Regarding the occupation of Caledonia, Sweeny said a permanent injunction was necessary as the group of protesters had destroyed Foxgate property and it was believed they would continue the occupation.

On their Twitter page, the group said they will continue to occupy the country and will resist any police attempts to remove them.

“We will continue to cultivate meadow orchards, sing our songs and keep space here,” she wrote. “We will be free on our land.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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