A representative of STM Construction (right) tries to stop native protesters from taking down a locked gate at the Kingspan site on Fen Ridge Court in Brantford, ON Monday July 7, 2007. Protesters violated a court injunction and a recently-enacted city bylaw aimed at preventing protesters from hampering construction progress at sites within the city.
Credits: QMI AGENCY
BRANTFORD -- A group of Six Nations protesters has until the end of the month to pay $350,000 to the City of Brantford for protests in 2007-08.
The court costs were awarded by a judge after the city spent weeks obtaining an injunction against the protests, which stopped construction at 10 sites around the city.
"I think it is, by way of response to the injunction, a clear statement about the strength of the injunction," Brantford Mayor Chris Friel said of the award.
"I believe that's a message that's been sent by the courts in a couple of different ways."
But Friel said that, whether that message is listened to, or the court award is paid promptly, is "outside the realm of my knowledge."
"But I think it will be a deterrent, yes. Some will see it as a call to action but others will pay attention. You're never sure which way it goes."
QMI Agency was unable to reach any of the named protesters over the weekend.
The judgment, released at the end of February, denied the city's initial request of $887,000.
Justice Harrison Arrell called that amount "excessive" and reduced the cost to $350,000 to be paid by protesters Floyd and Ruby Montour, Clive Garlow, Charlie Green, Mary Green, Aaron Detlor, Hazel Hill, Jane and John Doe and persons unknown.
During the height of the protests, the named Six Nations members were joined by others from the community to voice objections to the development of land, which they say is unceded or was never paid for.
The protests ground work to a halt and, in the case of one company, Kingspan, convinced the company to leave town and do business elsewhere.
Kingspan has sued the city for the expenses incurred due to the blockades.
"I found as a fact that those projects, given the relatively modest size of Brantford, were of significant economic importance to the community," the judge said.
During the protests, the city passed bylaws against blocking work on construction sites, wrote to some of the named protesters, got a court-ordered interim injunction and, when the protests continued, went for and received a temporary injunction against the protesters.
The named protesters argued they are "public interest litigants" so no costs should be awarded against them.
But the judge pointed out that he had been expressly asked not to determine the question of whether the land title had been properly ceded by Six Nations, so he felt it weakened the argument that the protesters were acting as public interest litigants.