The developer of a Caledonia, Ont., subdivision at the centre of land dispute has successfully secured new hearing dates for a potential permanent injunction against a Six Nations group that led an occupation in 2020, stalling construction efforts.
Lawyers for Foxgate Developments – a partnership between Losani Homes and Ballantry Homes – made the motion in a St. Catharines court on Tuesday in response to an occupation which dubbed the plot of land 1492 Land Back Lane, claiming it’s on unceded Haudenosaunee territory.
The resulting protests led to Foxgate cancelling the project in July of 2021 suggesting the dispute appeared to have “no sign of it ending,” vice-president and chief legal officer William Liske told Global News in a statement last summer.
Notices were delivered to home buyers advising that for various reasons, the sale contracts had been “frustrated” and that deposits would be returned in full.
Foxgate planned to sell close to 200 homes on the 25-acre stretch of land.
Prior to Tuesday’s proceedings, 1492 spokesperson Skyler Williams characterized the developer’s action as an “attempt to use the courts to legitimize the theft” of homes.
“I am disgusted at how elected officials have dragged their feet, refusing to live up to their obligations under the treaties between our nations and their roles within their government,” Williams said in a statement before the matter.
“The peaceful path forward does not include courts and cops.”
Liske says Tuesday’s order requires Williams to file materials and submissions by April 29.
“This re-hearing of the permanent injunction will be in conformity with the judgment of the appeals court, providing Mr. Williams with an opportunity to participate,” Liske told Global News in a statement.
He goes on to say Foxgate has never opposed Williams participation in the matter and that the re-hearing will take place with his participation along with attorney generals representing Ontario and the government of Canada.
Demonstrators claim the tract of land in question was “promised” to Six Nations in 1784 but “unlawfully” sold to a developer by the Canadian government in 1853.
Lawyers for Foxgate successfully lobbied for temporary injunctions preventing unauthorized people from being on the land in 2020.
Despite several arrests by OPP, protesters hunkered down, setting up blockades on Argyle Street South, McKenzie Road and the Highway 6 bypass.
The land defenders have been seeking a dialogue with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, as well as Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and Greg Rickford, Ontario’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs, to discuss land rights for Indigenous Peoples.
More than 50 people were charged for offences related to the occupation with the bulk of the charges eventually withdrawn.
The legal team representing Williams, Aliah El-houni and Sima Atri of the Community Justice Collective, are pitching negotiations led by mediators.
“We strongly believe that the best thing would be to sit down and negotiate, and not head back to court,” El-houni and Atri said in a statement last Thursday.
The two-day injunction hearing is set to start Sept. 12.