The primary Plaintiff in this case is the Corporation of the City of Guelph (essentially Mayor Karen Farbridge, every councilor, Chief Administrative Officer Hans Loewig, General Manager of Economic Development and Tourism Peter Cartwright, and others). Belmont Equity, a giant GTA-based development firm is the other Plaintiff. Mostly when we refer to the lawsuit we refer to it as the City of Guelph’s lawsuit. This is because Belmont Equity has been mostly invisible to us throughout the entire process, whereas city officials, both elected and un-elected, have been the ones personally following through with each step of the lawsuit against us. Also, in theory, elected officials are more accessible to concerned residents and should act on those concerns.
The Defendants were originally seven individuals, as well as “Land Is More Important Than Sprawl (LIMITS), John Doe, Jane Doe, and other persons unknown.” Please see our What is a SLAPP Suit page to understand the problems with naming LIMITS and others. Two of the named individuals got off the injunction & lawsuit early in the court process, and now there are five named people.
There are a number of legal documents worth reading to get an understand of what this is all about.
City of Guelph’s Statement of Claim is the city’s arguments against us. It lays out their reasoning for asking for an injunction and payment for ‘damages,’ their specific requests for their injunction, and their allegations of “conspiracy, interference with economic relations, inducing breach of contract, trespass, nuisance, and intimidation.” It is a fairly short and insightful document that is worth reading.
Read the Amended Statement of Claim, amended most recently February 24, 2010.
The Hanlon Creek 5’s Statement of Defence is our response to all allegations against us. It lays out what why we were justified and reasonable in taking the actions we did, and explains why every claim of the city’s is believed by us to be unfounded. It explains to a certain extent why the city’s attempt to begin development of the Hanlon Creek Business Park was unreasonable and a threat to the land. It also explains that because our actions were to prevent irreparable harm, our actions further do not constitute any of the city’s allegations against us. Please read this document.
Read our Statement of Defence, submitted to the Provincial Superior Court on March 24, 2010
Justice Greys Decision: On August 13 2009, Justice Gray of the Ontario Superior Court issued a mutual injunction in support of the occupants of the Hanlon Creek, and the City and Belmont Equity. Justice Gray forced the city to stop work, and passed the power to issue a ‘stop work order’ to Donna Cansfield, then-Minister of Natural Resources, and a Member of Provincial Parliament with the Liberal Party.
The City quickly tried spinning it as something they wanted all along, but in reality, they were pissed. We set a new precedent for environmental conflicts like this – people walked onto a construction site and stopped work themselves, and essentially won in court. Donna Cansfield later sold us out and allowed work to continue, but only after too much time had passed for the city to finish that construction contract within the given deadline for 2009.
The injunction is an interesting read that outlines the background of the HCBP conflict with specific regard to the Jefferson Salamander and the City’s unwillingness to enact maximum protection of the land. It also details the arguments used by our lawyer, Eric Gillespie, in why we acted in the best interest of the land, the environment, and the residents of Guelph. Most notably, Justice Gray grants us status as “public interest litigants,” who acted to uphold the “precautionary principle” – two very important standings insofar as legal stature goes.