GUELPH — A Superior Court judge will let the occupation of the planned Hanlon Creek Business Park continue until Monday, under certain terms.
Justice Bonnie J. Wein’s order will allow no more than 30 activists and five press representatives, at any given time, on the Hanlon Creek lands.
The protesters will be allowed to remain in the area, where they have already set up tents, a shade structure, a log tower, a kitchen, a composting toilet, a handwashing and first-aid station.
While they remain on the property, the City of Guelph will be able to send in workers to repair silt fences and perform water analysis. Surveyors will also be allowed to put back any survey stakes pulled out.
“Many would think I have been very generous, but I have seen on the record the peaceful way this protest has been made,” Wein said. There are often many results that can be achieved through negotiation, she said.
The city, claiming $5 million in damages, has applied to the court for an injunction to end the occupation that began July 27. On Tuesday, Wein granted environmental activists an adjournment.
About 60 activists and supporters packed the benches inside the courtroom. Their backpacks lined hallways outside. Several came in dress shirts and pants. Others wore tank tops and shorts.
The seven defendants listed in the injunction application sat in the front row.
It took nearly five hours for the judge to grant the adjournment, as the city’s lawyer Michael Bordin requested time to consult with his client and propose an interim injunction. During court breaks, several activists sat outside the courthouse making buttons. They were handed to supporters and passersby.
In describing the city’s proposal to the judge, Bordin expressed there would be limited construction work done on the site, if the protesters moved to another designated spot on the Hanlon Creek lands. He also requested any structure set up by the protesters be removed.
“There may have been damage to the property,” he said. “The city is ultimately responsible for that and for the individuals that are there.”
However, defendants’ lawyer Eric Gillespie argued the site designated by the city was found to be marshy ground, where city vehicles had previously got stuck. The site where protesters have settled was set up as a staging area for construction workers. If they move, they would be disturbing the land and possibly causing environmental damage, Gillespie said.
Wein was convinced by Gillespie’s argument and said the protesters can remain on the site, along with any structures previously built, as long as no new ones are added. She also asked protesters to refrain from climbing up the log tower.
Gillespie said outside the courtroom that it is a positive sign that his clients can occupy the land on an interim basis.
“It appears that everybody believes this is a reasonable way of moving forward at this time,” he said about the terms imposed on their occupation.
Activists didn’t offer comment following the decision. However, during an earlier court recess, activist Will Dubois said the adjournment would offer them extra time to prepare a defence.
Bordin agreed with the judge that some might feel she was generous.
“We have concerns that we have expressed about safety,” he said. “I am not sure (the decision) helps that.”