(Please forgive the lengthy and not quite so focused rundown, the author is running on one hour sleep)
Victory in court?!? This morning we were entering the state of mind that the police tactical unit could raid us immediately upon the granting of an injunction. And indeed they were ready and waiting in the court building, but they did not get their wish. The courtroom was packed with 70-80 people, many of whom were new to the 7 defendants. An enormous thank you to everyone who came out to support!
Instead of granting an injunction, the judge decided to adjourn until Monday, August 10. Some of us didn’t sleep at all last night as we worked from 12 noon right through to 9am, preparing our legal defence in the form of affidavits. Despite our tiredness, our spirits remain strong among the company of so many amazing people, both with us in person and in spirit.
We have retained Eric Gillespie as our lawyer, who is the best possible lawyer for us. In 2006 he represented the Kortright Hills Neighbourhood Association in their fight against the Hanlon Creek Business Park, when they took the City to the Ontario Municipal Board. So he knows more than any other lawyer about this issue, and believes in our cause. He is also very well known as the lawyer who fought Wal-Mart in Guelph for 9 years, which was an epic battle which ultimately resulted in Wal-Mart coming to Guelph.
Here’s the rundown:
The City was pushing for an ‘all or nothing’ package where they wanted us to:
leave the construction site and move to their designated ‘protest pen’
remove all structures
allow the filling in of all trenches, the repair of the silt fencing (which was improperly installed in the first place), and allow the re-staking of survey stakes which unknown individuals removed,
and allow all contractors to continue work, except for heavy machinery.
Our lawyer argued that that would be essentially the same as the injunction. So instead, we got the judge to agree to let us stay right where we are, and keep all our structures! There are a few concessions however: we cannot have more than 30 people on site (as well as 5 from the media), and that can only include people who have already been at the site for at least 24 hours. We must allow the re-staking of survey stakes and the repair of the silt fencing, and we cannot build any new structures. We also must put a string around the main area where are occupying (the judge laughingly suggested some green hemp rope – she was in a good mood).
Despite those concessions, we are extremely excited that the occupiers are allowed to stay in place and keep all the structures, when the City wanted to move everyone to their ‘protest pen,’ which very few people felt would be a dignified move.
So in short, this is a huge victory, and nearly unprecedented in Canada for the Defendants of an injunction to be allowed to stay in place while the case is adjourned. The plus to that is that this case law is now available to support other such land defence actions!
A very important thing is that we have 6 more days to prepare our legal defence. In effect the judge has nearly doubled the length of the occupation.
Another thing is that at first the judge was concerned for our ‘health and safety.’ But we feel we impressed her with descriptions of the facilities on site, namely our composting toilet, handwashing station, first aid tent with medics and herbalists, our kitchen complete with a double kitchen sink, our quite large shade structure that helps prevent sun stroke, and our well-established cooking area made of bricks and a grill.
Bizarrely, the judge appeared to favour our occupation and respect us for standing up for our beliefs. We left jubilant and focused on the tasks ahead.
On a closing note… We need to do some serious fundraising. We hope we can count on some of our supporters for help. Basically Eric is cutting us a big deal, but we will still need to raise about $6000. We feel this is not only achievable, but worth it. Essentially, for the costs so far of $1500, we have temporarily beat an injunction – that is relatively unheard of and is a very good sign!
If you are able to donate any money at all, we would greatly appreciate it. Cheques can be mailed directly to:
Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation
10 King St. East, Suite 600, Toronto Ontario, Canada, M5C 1C3.
Cheques can be written out to ‘Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation’. If you can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know the amount you’re sending, that’ll help us determine things on our end.
A great big thank you to everyone who came out! We really cannot thank you enough. Let’s keep this going! Thank you also to the blue heron, the near-full moon, the Hanlon Creek, the ancient Black Cherry trees, and the land that supports us. Our lives would be impoverished without you.