Parker lands battle heats up
Developer going to court, seeks injunction and monetary compensation
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/07/2017 (2076 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The situation at the Parker Wetlands is escalating and protesters are emboldened — with some covering their faces with masks and using lumber to fortify their encampment, a lawyer for the Winnipeg protest site’s landowner said Tuesday.
More tents have been popping up each day and a project manager employed by real estate developer Gem Equities Inc. has been followed around the property by a protester carrying an axe, Kevin Toyne said.
The claims come on the eve of the first step in a legal battle between Gem Equities (owned by local developer Andrew Marquess) and the protesters who have encamped on the disputed 42-acre ecosystem since July 14 in an effort to halt clearing of its trees.
A spokesperson for the protesters was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday about the allegations.
The matter is set to go before a judge at 10 a.m. today, when Toyne will argue for an injunction and monetary compensation for his client.
Should the court refuse to provide an injunction and Winnipeg police continue to remain uninvolved in the conflict, Toyne said, it is within his client’s legal right to remove the protesters from the land.
“Using as much force as necessary,” court documents said, citing the Manitoba Petty Trespasses Act.
“One of the points I will raise (today) is the situation is escalating,” Toyne said. “The police aren’t stepping in. The size of the encampment is growing.
“The illegal trespassers are growing emboldened, taking it to another level. Those are things that should be very concerning to every Winnipegger.”
The protesters have previously vowed to go to jail if necessary to stop further clearing of the land some claim is unceded Métis territory, due to its proximity to the former Métis settlement known as Rooster Town.
Marquess and Toyne have called for Winnipeg police to intervene since the encampment shut down development on the property.
It is believed about one-third (some 15 acres) of the trees on the land were cut down before protesters arrived.
When asked if he thought whether one of the protest leaders, Jenna Vandal, being the daughter of Liberal MP Dan Vandal (Saint Boniface-Saint Vital) had anything to do with a perceived lack of police response, Toyne said: “let’s just say if this were you or I, we’d have received a very different response. Miss Vandal has not only been allowed to continue her illegal activity, but also had an invitation to meet with the mayor (Brian Bowman on Monday).”
Gem Equities gained ownership of the Parker Wetlands in a 2009 land swap with the City of Winnipeg.
Marquess disputed claims the deal was “controversial,” while protesters said Indigenous groups were not consulted in the process.
Should the injunction be approved Wednesday, Toyne said he will further argue the protesters’ claim that a consultation process was required has no basis in law — as municipalities such as the city aren’t held to the same duties as the province or federal government.
A number of defendants in the case could not be reached for comment Tuesday. It was unclear if they had secured legal representation ahead of Wednesday’s court date.
In an interview Friday with the Free Press, Cal Dueck of the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee expressed doubt the area’s trees could be saved.
“I have this insane belief a little butterfly can cause a hurricane,” Dueck said. “Once in a while it happens, but if we don’t keep flapping our little wings, then nothing is ever going to change.
“There doesn’t appear to be much hope, maybe it’s too late to save the Parker Wetlands. But if we could save one future forest, then our advocacy would be worth it.”
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.