Tag Archives: Parker Lands

Winnipeg Judge orders Parker Lands Protesters to Go Home

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands site have been given until 6 p.m. Friday to leave the property. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Judge grants interlocutory injunction to property owners, protesters have to clear out by Friday

Protesters occupying the Parker Lands development in Winnipeg have been ordered by a judge to leave the property and clean up all their belongings by 6 p.m. Friday.

The order is part of an injunction granted by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice James Edmond Thursday afternoon.

The Parker Lands property was acquired in a land swap with the City of Winnipeg by two numbered companies connected to local developer Gem Equities.

Protesters have occupied the Fort Garry property in two encampments since July. They oppose the clearing of forested areas on the property and argue the area has historical and cultural significance to Métis and Indigenous communities.

Work on the property — which the owners described as “pre-development” — came to a standstill with the arrival of the protesters on July 14.

The injunction “means our client can get back to what they were doing in July — carrying out lawful business activities that were being stopped by illegal trespassers,” said Kevin Toyne, the lawyer for the property owners. “Our clients are quite happy that their rights have been upheld and vindicated by the courts.”

Protester not surprised by decision

Jenna Vandal, one of three protesters who made submissions Thursday opposing the injunction, said she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“I know the court institution is here to protect and enshrine property rights,” Vandal said. “Of course, I wish it happened the other way.”

Vandal, who is Métis, said the property borders the site of the long-demolished Métis settlements of Rooster Town and Tin Town.

“Métis would have used this territory for subsistence and ceremonial purposes,” she said. “That in itself gives the land much importance and value to Indigenous and Métis people.”

Inside court, Edmond noted no Indigenous or Métis community had made an entitlement claim to the land. As well, the Manitoba Métis Federation, which Vandal said supported her efforts, made no representation to court on the issue.

Edmond said the protesters had no legal right to trespass on the property and ruled the owners would suffer “irreparable harm” if the occupation was allowed to continue.

“I am satisfied that the costs of delay are real … and the plaintiffs will suffer real harm,” Edmond said.

He said the legal remedy for the protesters would be to seek a judicial review of the city’s decision to sell the property.

“To just show up and camp on somebody else’s property, there isn’t a legal right to do that,” he said.

Until now, city police have declined to intervene in the dispute, saying they would take their cue from the courts.

Edmond ordered that protesters remove all their belongings and “obstructions” from the site in a “peaceful” manner.

“I don’t want to see confrontations,” Edmond said.

The property owners are seeking an order of $10,000 in costs from each of the three defendants who were in court Thursday.

Edmond will rule on that issue after receiving written submissions from the defendants next week.

CBC News Posted: Sep 14, 2017 


Company Denied Urgent Hearing to Remove Protesters from Parker Wetlands

Owners of the Parker Lands slated for development by Gem Equities have filed a lawsuit against protesters and an injunction demanding the group leave. Demonstrators say the land is contested Indigenous land and home to endangered wildlife. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Gem Equities sought injunction to remove the protesters accused of trespassing, delaying work

By Laura Glowacki, CBC News Posted: Jul 26, 2017

A Winnipeg company hoping to develop the Parker Lands was not granted an urgent hearing for an injunction motion filed on behalf of the owner to remove protesters camped out on the land.

The lawyer representing Andrew Marquess, owner of Gem Equities, told a Winnipeg courtroom Wednesday that protesters on a piece of land slated for residential development in Fort Garry are fortifying the site and insulting the law.

“They are effectively giving the middle finger to everyone who pays their taxes and the rules of law,” said Kevin Toyne, lawyer for two numbered companies as well as Marquess.

Toyne argued that an urgent hearing is needed because the company is losing potential profits by not being able to proceed with development and there is a public safety risk.

The urgent hearing was not granted. Instead, the injunction motion will be heard on Nov 2. Defendants have until Aug. 25 to file their statement of defence.

Marquess’s company, Gem Equities, is hoping to build townhouses and apartments on the 24-hectare property known as the Parker Lands.

Protesters say the land is contested with roots in the Métis community and serves as an important habitat for birds and other animals.

Protest camp prevents further clearing

Protesters set up a small camp of about six tents on the Parker Lands last week after Gem Equities began clearing trees. The company says protesters are preventing mulching equipment from moving, making further clearing of trees on the site impossible.

A small group of protesters met outside the court on Wednesday morning.

“It’s important to me and I think a lot of people because first off, the land is beautiful and there’s a lot of animals there and people have been trying to protect it for a while,” said Maddy Jantz, one of the protesters. “But most importantly, it’s Métis land and the Métis folks were not consulted. They still haven’t been.”

Protesters have been seen holding an axe and wearing masks. Parker Lands advocate Jenna Vandal said the axe was being used to chop wood for a bonfire.

“No one would be allowed to walk in this courtroom with an axe,” Toyne told the judge. “An axe is a weapon.”

Marquess acquired the property in 2009 in a controversial land swap with the city.

Protesters set up camp last week when Gem Equities started clearing trees from the site. Earlier this year, the City of Winnipeg shredded trees as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.

The residential development Gem Equities envisions would be called Oak Grove. The plan includes high-density towers, medium-density low-rise buildings, low-density townhouses and single-family homes, arranged in concentric circles around a Southwest Transitway station plaza.

City council has not approved the area plan, rezonings or developments necessary for the company to move forward.


Protesters Surround Machinery to Protect Winnipeg’s Parker Lands

Protesters walk through a clear-cut area that was once aspen forest in the Parker Lands on Friday. (Dereck Doherty/CBC)

Group calls for conservation area instead of development along new rapid transit route

CBC News Posted: Jul 14, 2017

A group of protesters gathered at the Parker Lands in Winnipeg Friday in an effort to halt the removal of trees and destruction of what they call an important environmental wetland area.

The group surrounded a shredding machine that had been at work since Thursday, turning timber into toothpicks.

“We’re standing in front of the machines and making sure they’re not moving,” said protester Jenna Vandal.

“The construction company came and told us we were on private land, and we said we’re actually on Native land so we’re not moving. He left and got the police to come, and the police told us they’re just worried for our safety and left after that.”

Vandal, a ​Métis woman, is considering setting up an occupation of the site, bringing out tents and lighting a sacred fire. She’s less worried about being removed by the police than about just watching the forest be destroyed.

‘It should be criminal’

Vandal has signed numerous petitions, written to politicians at all levels of government, and used social media to make as many people as possible aware of the issue.

“I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done,” she said.

‘I feel I’ve done what I can do and there’s nothing left but direct action. And sometimes that’s the only way to get things done.’– Jenna Vandal

A group called the Parker Wetlands Conservation Committee has been lobbying government to set aside the Parker Lands — south of Taylor Avenue and just west of the Jubilee–Pembina interchange — as an ecological reserve for about three years.

“There is so much room elsewhere for development. We don’t have to develop these natural spaces that provide us with some green, and to have them destroyed,” said PWCC spokesman Cal Dueck.

“It should be criminal.”‘

Earlier this year, many of the trees were shredded as part of the next phase of the city’s rapid transit bus route.

The piece of land being targeted by protesters on Friday is privately owned by Gem Equities, which acquired it in a controversial land swap with the city.

Gem has been removing the trees ahead of expected development along the new transit route. However, the company owned by developer Andrew Marquess has not yet submitted a plan to the city.

CBC has contacted Gem Equities for comment.

In just two weeks, the PWCC has received 1,500 signatures on a petition opposed to the destruction of the area, according to Dueck.

“The remaining 42 acres of forest and wetland is slated to be sacrificed to a housing development. ‘Developing’ this area would exacerbate the already profound threats to our watershed,” the petition states, while listing the flora and fauna that will be impacted by the loss of their natural habitat.

‘Much of the flora and fauna on the property is no longer found elsewhere in Winnipeg.’– Cal Dueck

“The Parker wetlands and aspen forest is home to myriad wild creatures including whitetail deer, foxes, frogs and toads, a great horned owl, a family of Cooper’s hawk, swallowtail butterflies, milkweed, yellow lady-slippers, the mysterious bottle gentian, and big bluestem (as well as vestiges of both mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie ecosystems), to name only a fraction of the population,” the petition says.

“In March the tracks of a short-tailed weasel were spotted, and recently a Canada warbler and a whip-poor-will, both classified in Manitoba as threatened under the Endangered Species and Ecosystems Act, were observed.”

Call for conservation area

Dueck is calling on the city and the province to “save this heritage forest” by issuing an immediate stop-work order until the land can be purchased or expropriated from Marquess.

Dueck is also urging Marquess to offer the land to the city or province “at a reasonable price” so it can be held as a conservation area.

“Much of the flora and fauna on the property is no longer found elsewhere in Winnipeg,” he said, noting that in 2000, the area was designated as an ecologically sensitive natural heritage area.

But at some point during the administration of previous mayor Sam Katz, the area was re-designated as a major redevelopment area, Dueck said.

In addition to the plants and animals in the area, the land is an important part of Indigenous history, said Vandal.

“Rooster Town, a Mé​tis settlement destroyed in 1960, was situated right next to the Parker wetlands,” she said. “Structures, arrowheads and bison-skinning tools have been found in this urban forest.

“I will fight to defend this land that cared for my Indigenous ancestors, both Métis and First Nations.”

The protesters say they will remain at the site until Friday evening.