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article imageHanlon Creek wetland defenders call on Guelph to drop lawsuit Special

By Bob Gordon     Apr 23, 2010 in Environment
Last summer the defenders of the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex in southern Guelph occupied the area in an attempt to prevent the city and its partners from infrastructure work that they believed threatened a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW).
Subsequently the city sued some of the occupants claiming five million dollars in damages. "City staff initially estimated damages from the occupation to be about $150,000, but the city’s manager of legal services, Tricia Sinclair, said the claim was amended to account for potential future damages," the Guelph Mercury reported in March.
At 1 p.m. today four of the five individuals named in the lawsuit held a press conference in front of the Guelph city hall. Josh Gilbert, Matt Soltys, Matt Lowell-Pelletier and Cailey Campbell were the four defendants present.
They regard the lawsuit as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). They assert that the city will not suffer $5 million in damages, that it has no realistic hope of collecting $5 million, and that the lawsuit is directed to silencing their opposition and intimidating other individuals opposed to the development from voicing their opinions.
They believe they are being sued for speaking out, as Matt Soltys said at their press conference. "This is a legal move where a plaintiff launches a ridiculously high lawsuit at someone who's doing or saying something they don't like."
Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex (HCWC), Downey Road entrance. On the first day of the occupation, July 27, 2009, banners proclaim the occupants intention to protect the land.
Bob Gordon
Campbell emphasized that the defendants had not sued for legal costs when their injunction to stop work was awarded by the court. She also pointed out that the five defendants would never be able to pay if they were found liable for the claimed damages and questioned the legal costs the city was incurring in pursuing its lawsuit.
Josh Gilbert opened the proceedings, and closed them with an appeal to the city:
So we say today as we have said before Stop the Hanlon Creek Business Park!
Karen Farbridge and The City of Guelph, drop the SLAPP suit against the 'Hanlon Creek Five'.
Tributary A of the Hanlon Creek flows through the Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) known as th...
Tributary A of the Hanlon Creek flows through the Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) known as the Hanlon Creek Wetland Complex.
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