March 21, 2019 5:15 pm

Alton Gas expects protesters at N.S. site to move belongings as court injunction clarified

An unidentified man sits outside a Mi'kmaq camp at the entrance to an Alton Gas work site along the Shubenacadie River, in Fort Ellis, N.S. on Monday, March 18, 2019.

The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan
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Alton Gas says protesters were expected to remove their belongings from its Nova Scotia property Thursday evening as a temporary injunction imposed Monday is finalized over the next few days.

The company is planning to store natural gas in huge underground caverns north of Halifax – a project that has prompted protesters to occupy a two-storey hut at one of its facilities near the Shubenacadie River.

Lori MacLean, a spokeswoman for the firm, said it was expected the remaining protesters would move their belongings away from the site by 5 p.m.

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READ MORE: Nova Scotia court grants injunction against Mi’kmaq protester at Alton Gas site

She said this is an “informal agreement” by the lawyers for two protesters – Dale Poulette and his partner Rachael Greenland-Smith – and the company on the meaning of a temporary injunction against the occupation of the site.

However, MacLean said the company “isn’t planning on any immediate return to the river” before the injunction’s final wording is finished.

Earlier this week, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge ruled that Poulette, Greenland-Smith and others must stop occupying the makeshift structure that blocks the main access road to the company’s pumphouse and control centre.

However, Justice Gerald Moir also said that the protesters should be given an alternate site on the company property where they can still be seen by the public.

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He left the details of that site to be discussed and agreed upon by Alton’s lawyer and James Gunvaldsen Klaassen, the lawyer representing Poulette and Greenland-Smith.

Gunvaldsen Klaassen confirmed in an interview that the parties have submitted a document to the judge in which most details are now confirmed, but he must resolve a “small point of difference.”

He said his clients are no longer at the site and intend to abide by the terms of the judge’s order and the informal agreement as the details continue to be worked out.

He said it’s expected the wording on where protesters can move to on the work site will be “probably be finished early next week,” after the court has finished its work.

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Dorene Bernard, one of the protesters at the site on Thursday evening, said in a telephone interview that people were removing some of their property during the evening.

She said a ceremony was planned for 10 a.m. on Friday.

Alton Gas is a subsidiary of Calgary-based AltaGas.

It had initially planned to have construction completed between 2013 and 2018. However, the company recently asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to extend its cavern construction permit to Sept. 1, 2023

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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