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Posts Tagged ‘HCBP’

We started off CFRU 93.3fm’s Royal City Rag on March 6 with a beautiful set featuring Peter Gabriel’s version of David Bowie’s Heroes from his sublime album of re-interpretations Scratch My Back, UK based Alessi’s Ark with Hands In The Sink and Po’Girl with the title track from their album Deer In the Night.

Po’Girl are in Guelph on March 9 for a show at Dublin St United Church as part of their “No Shame” tour, highlighting the serious problem of child sexual abuse.

Po’Girl And The No Shame Tour To Combat Child Abuse
featuring Po’Girl (with special guest JT Nero) and Noise and the Ghost
When: March 9 at 7.30 p.m.
Where: Dublin St United Church, 68 Suffolk St W, Guelph
Tickets: $16/$20

Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

We devoted most of the first hour to a lawsuit against the protestors who peacefully occupied the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek for 17 days last summer.

That the lawsuit in question is by the City of Guelph and their development partner, Belmont Equity Partners, and is for a whopping $5 million should be cause of concern for all Guelphites who believe in our democractic right to peaceful protest. That the lawsuit should occur in Guelph while we have a mayor who touts her environmental credentials at ever opportunity and a city council who have described themselves as the greenest in Guelph’s history should be cause for even more concern.

Although the plaintiffs claim that they are not seeking punitive damages it is clear from the $5 million figure that this is far more than just a desire to, quoting the city press release, ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

The plaintiffs would likely claim otherwise, but this is really just a good old SLAPP suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) that according to Wikipedia, is “intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

Cartoon by Khalil Bendib

To learn more about SLAPP suits, we talked to Rebecca McNeil from Environmental Defence , an organisation dedicated to protecting the environment and human health.

According to Environmental Defence, SLAPPs are a growing threat to meaningful participation in issues of public interest in Ontario and significantly affect the ability of communities to protest development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Although SLAPP suits are not uncommon in Ontario, 50 per cent of American States, and most recently Quebec have passed anti-SLAPP legislation.

Environmental Defence is working with partners Ecojustice and Canadian Environmental Law Association to finally put a stop to SLAPPs in Ontario.

As well as pushing for new legislation,  their campaign has encouraged more than 70 community groups to write to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty requesting an end to SLAPP suits. They have also produced a petition to stop SLAPPs that you can sign HERE.

Interestingly, Environmental Defence have managed to get approximately 70 municipalities to pass a resolution asking the Province to pass anti-SLAPP legislation.

Sounds like its about time Guelph joined that group.

Contact your councillor and request that they ask the City of Guelph to withdraw the SLAPP suit against the Hanlon Creek protestors. Ask them to table a resolution supporting an end to SLAPPs in Ontario. Tell them that such anti-democratic bullying behaviour is unacceptable in Guelph. It will be an election issue.

Royal City Rag will not let this issue go until the City of Guelph do the right thing and drop this lawsuit.

Listen to Hour 1:

Mo Kauffey Bluesman

In the second hour, we changed our focus entirely and enjoyed some live music by Guelph-based musician Mo’Kauffey.

Mo’ Kauffey (Gary Wickizer) has been playing his country blues roots music for more than 30 years. Many influences have been blended to create his unique languid style; Greg Brown or Mark Knopfler are two that might come to mind. Mo’ loves to play a trusty old mid-30’s Gibson, that only cost him $25.

Playing over150 dates a year from coffeehouses to festivals, he is well known around the area but also further a field, especially his home state of Colorado.

Mo’ has released five independent CDs since 2000 with radio airplay across North America, through Europe, and as far away as Australia. His sixth album, “Dig It”  has just been released. You can  buy Dig It through Mo’s website www.mokauffey.com or his Facebook fanpage.

You can catch Mo’ on March 21 at Borealis Bar and Grille on Gordon St and on March 27 he will be playing the Boathouse in Kitchener with Duane Rutter and Mark McNeil. 3 writers, 3 players and 3 characters = one great show!

Listen to Hour 2:

Download Hour 2 (Right Click And Save)

Music:
Peter Gabriel, Heroes from Scratch My Back
Alessi’s Ark, Hands In The Sink from Communion  – The Compilation
Po’Girl, Deer In The Night from Deer In The Night
Dar Williams, What Do You Love More Than Love? from Green World
Keb’ Mo’,  Big Yellow Taxi from Big Wide Grin
Brooks Williams, Weeping Willow Blues from Blues And Ballads
Brooks Williams, Joyful from Joyful
Mo Kauffey, What’s So Funny About Peace Love And Understanding (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Dig It (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, In The Snow (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Scramble (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Who’d A Thunk It (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Cheshire Moon (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, What You Gonna Do? (Live In The Studio)
Mo Kauffey, Celebrate (Live In The Studio)

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Karen Farbridge, Guelph’s Iron Lady –  Re-election And Punitive SLAPP suits
Jan Andrea Hall, Royal City Rag

Jan Andrea Hall

Its interesting that Karen Farbridge, the current Mayor of Guelph, should decide to announce her bid for re-election on the same day that the City of Guelph legal department reaffirms its desire to seek damages from the individuals who occupied the Hanlon Creek Business Park last summer.

It seems that despite the efforts of the site occupants to peacefully protest the proposed development at the environmentally sensitive Hanlon Creek, the City of Guelph and their co-developer Belmont Equity are seeking up to $5 million in damages from the occupants.

One wonders at the timing of such a lawsuit? A coincidence or is this supposed to send a message to the business and development community that Farbridge is tough and that there will be no opposition of any kind to whatever they want to do in Guelph?

Its interesting that the City and Belmont Equity claim that they are not seeking punitive damages as part of the claim, yet use a $5 million dollar figure, which is outlandishly large if it is just to ‘recover the actual cost of damages, including damages to the site, resulting from protestor activities, and costs relating to the loss of monitoring equipment’.

They would likely claim otherwise, but it appears that this is a good old SLAPP suit.

To quote good old Wikipedia, “a SLAPP suit or a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.”

“The plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.”

Charming.

Am I the only one that finds it embarassing that Mayor Farbridge, who I presume okayed this lawsuit, is the same Karen Farbridge who was co-ordinator of the Guelph Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) for over a decade and advocated for non-violent direct action and protest when it was required?

Perhaps we should all re-read Bob Gordon’s excellent Guelph Mercury article about Karen Farbridge’s time at OPIRG. Find it here.

It would seem that the real Karen Farbridge is now standing up.

Its going to be a very interesting municipal election campaign. Rest assured we’ll be following it all very closely.

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Hanlon Creek Downstream In The Spring (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek In The Spring, Upstream From the Culvert (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Hanlon Creek Business Park Stand-Off, The Judge’s Decision
Bob Gordon, Freelance Journalist/Member of the Guelph Mercury Community Editorial Board

On Thursday, August 13, Justice Gray presented his decision on the injunctions heard on August 10 between the Corporation of the City of Guelph and Belmont Equity (HCBP) Holdings Ltd., and the 7 named defendants, Members of Land is More Important than Sprawl (LIMITS), and John Doe, Jane Doe and other persons unknown.

His decision resulted in both injunctions being granted: The occupants are ordered to leave the site by noon today, Friday, August 14, while the city is enjoined to cease all work on Culvert A on Tributary A of the Hanlon Creek until the Minister of Natural Resources had considered the matter.

The decision regarding the City’s application for an injunction to remove the occupants was dealt with simply and swiftly in the decision:

[24] In my view, the plaintiffs must be granted an injunction to restrain trespassing and interference with construction activities.

[26] …the plaintiffs are entitled to assert the rights of ordinary property owners. That includes the right to exclude from the property those whom they wish to exclude, and certainly includes the right to prevent people from impeding or obstructing lawful activities on the property.

Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Grodon)

Hanlon Creek Site Entrance (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Consideration of the occupants’ injunction application was more complicated.

Justice Gray begins by outlining his reasons for granting the occupants standing as “public interest litigants”.

He notes that the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is powerless to act because protocols for the Jefferson Salamander and its habitat are recommendations rather than regulations (embodied in statute law) at the moment.

Subsequently, he notes that in that situation the Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Donna Cansfield (Liberal, MLA, Etobicoke Centre) has the “power to determine the very matter in issue in the defendants’ motion for an injunction, namely, whether work on the project should be stopped, and if so, to what degree and for how long, because of some anticipated negative impact on the habitat of the Jefferson Salamander.”

HCBP Culvert At Present (Photo: Bob Gordon)

HCBP Culvert At Present (Photo: Bob Gordon)

Further, Justice Gray notes that there is no evidence before him that the Minister has considered the matter and, “if construction activity commences immediately, it may prevent, or at lest seriously limit, any opportunity for the Minister to consider making such an order.” Describing this as “irreparable harm” the decision grants the applicants standing, and grants “an injunction to prevent further work on the culvert and the road leading up to it for a period of up to 30 days.”

The decision recognizes the primacy of the ‘precautionary principle’, “which, simply put, contemplates that where there is a threat of a significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measutes to avoid or minimize such a threat.”

At the same time it recognizes that this decision rests with the Minister of Natural Resources not the courts. Therefore, the injunction is time limited to give the Minister the opportunity to consider and decide on the appropriate course of action to follow.

Ultimately, the issue remains, as yet, undecided.

Bob Gordon
bob34g@gmail.com

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The battle for the hearts and minds in the Hanlon Creek Business Park Stand-Off is now heating up.

The City of Guelph is doing its best to spin Judge Gray’s judgement as being in their favour while the occupants and their supporters are also claiming victory because work is stopped for 30 days and its now up to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to determine the next step.

According to the city, the Hanlon Creek Business Park is needed to provide jobs for Guelphites so that the city can fulfill the requirements of the Ontario Places to Grow legislation with the requirement to accommodate 32,400 new jobs in the city by 2031. The HCBP is intended to be the home of 10,000 to 12,000 new jobs which seems an outlandish number when you consider they are also promoting the site for Agrobusiness and Biotechnology.

When you consider that the Southgate Business Park on the east side of the Hanlon is mostly empty and that there is a considerable amount of vacant industrial (brownfield) space in Guelph who are they trying to kid?

They also claim they need to have 5 years of industrial land ready to go yet already have 3 and 1/2 years of land available.

Interestingly I received this from the Guelph Chapter of the Council of Canadians this morning:

“For those who would like to put pressure on the provincial government to issue a stop work order at the Hanlon Creek Business Park until more can be learned about the Jefferson Salamander habitat in the area, here is contact info for Guelph’s MPP and the Minister of Natural Resources.

The July 31 letter from the MNR to the city re the Jefferson Salamander as background information. It states “…the Ministry is not in a position to support the continued construction of municipal services for Phases 1 and 2 of the HCBP in the absence of complete information regarding the extent of Jefferson Salamander habitat”.

Liz Sandals
173 Woolwich Street
Guelph, ON N1H 3V4
Tel: (519) 836-4190
Fax: (519) 836-4191
lsandals.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Donna Cansfield
Minister of Natural Resources
6630 Whitney Block, 6th Floor
99 Wellesley Street West.
Toronto, ON M7A 1W3
Tel: (416) 314-2201
dcansfield.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

If you haven’t read the letter from the MNR to the City of Guelph from July 31 you should.

Here it is.

July 31 Letter from MNR to the City Of Guelph

Maybe the City of Guelph should consider getting some better advice?

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Hot off the press.

Judge Gray has granted both injunctions, the City of Guelph against the occupants AND the occupants against the city. The occupants must leave and the city must stop work on the site for 30 days.

This is a little different from what you’ll read on the City of Guelph website which neglects to mention the occupants injunction.

In the interest of completeness you may want to read what the occupants are saying about the judge’s decision.

We’ll have a full report from Bob Gordon tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, read what Digital Journal has to say.

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