City bylaws fail first test; Police stand by as protesters ignore posted warning signs

Posted: May 21, 2008 in Brantford, HDI, Headlines, Land claims, Native Extortion, Natives
Brantford Expositor
May 21, 2008

New bylaws aimed at stopping native protests at city construction sites have failed their first test.

Six Nations protesters weren’t deterred Tuesday by warning signs posted over the weekend at the site of the $10.5-million Hampton Inn Hotel in the northwest business park.

“I’m frustrated,” said Danny Bawa, president of the company behind the hotel project. “Once the signs were there, it should have worked.

“People normally obey the law.”

The city is providing the signs to property owners building in designated development areas that have been hit by protests and blockades, including protesters claiming to act on behalf of a native organization called the Haudenosaunee Development Institute. Bawa said a construction supervisor arrived Tuesday morning to find protesters already blocking entrance to the site. Protesters denied the supervisor’s request to enter the site. Police officers there said they would not clear the way for workers.

Bawa said he is unsure of his next step.

Mayor Mike Hancock said the signs and bylaws are part of the city’s strategy recommended by the law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP to combat a wave of protests blocking construction in the northwest business park, a power centre planned for Wayne Gretzky Parkway and Henry Street, and a housing development at Erie Avenue and Birkett Lane.

“It’s up to the companies to post them if they choose,” Hancock said.

The mayor also said he couldn’t comment on the police’s decision not to enforce provisions of the bylaws.

“It’s up to them to decide how to handle the situation,” he said. “They have a right under the Police Services Act to direct themselves in operations. We cannot direct them on operational matters.”

The signs read: “Entry on the property or premises without consent for any purpose by any person, including any person purporting to act on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute is strictly prohibited. Trespassers will be prosecuted.”

Native activist Floyd Montour said that he wants the municipal signs to be investigated as “hate literature” because they single out one native organization, the HDI.

“We think it’s hate literature against us as protectors of the land,” said Montour, who along with wife, Ruby, has been leading a group of Confederacy activists blocking development.

Hancock was surprised at Montour’s remark.

“We would respectfully disagree that these signs constitute hate literature,” he said. “They were a procedure recommended by our lawyers.”

Montour said he is not surprised that police won’t intervene, even with the new bylaws.

“They know we are here under colour of right to protect our land and their job is to keep the peace,” he said. “We are conducting ourselves peacefully.”

The HDI was set up by the Confederacy in the last year to oversee development in areas of the Haldimand Tract under unresolved land claim. The organization is trying to establish itself as a planning authority, forcing developers to make applications, present documents and perhaps even pay fees.

The city says only it has the authority to control development and planning, a power given it under the Ontario Municipal Act.

Mayor Mike Hancock said the signs and bylaws are part of the city’s strategy recommended by the law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP to combat a wave of protests blocking construction in the northwest business park, a power centre planned for Wayne Gretzky Parkway and Henry Street, and a housing development at Erie Avenue and Birkett Lane.

“It’s up to the companies to post them if they choose,” Hancock said.

The mayor also said he couldn’t comment on the police’s decision not to enforce the bylaws.

“It’s up to them to decide how to handle the situation,” he said.

“They have a right under the Police Services Act to direct themselves in operations. We cannot direct them on operational matters.”

The signs read: “Entry on the property or premises without consent for any purpose by any person, including any person purporting to act on behalf of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute is strictly prohibited. Trespassers will be prosecuted.”

Native activist Floyd Montour said that he wants the municipal signs to be investigated as “hate literature” because they single out one native organization, the HDI.

“We think it’s hate literature against us as protectors of the land,” said Montour, who along with wife, Ruby, has been leading a group of Confederacy activists blocking development.

Hancock was surprised at Montour’s remark.

“We would respectfully disagree that these signs constitute hate literature,” he said. “They were a procedure recommended by our lawyers.”

Montour said he is not surprised that police won’t intervene, even with the new bylaws.

“They know we are here under colour of right to protect our land and their job is to keep the peace,” he said. “We are conducting ourselves peacefully.”

Colour of right is a legal defence based on the principle that those who invoke it have an honestly held belief that they have a claim to the land.

The HDI was set up by the Confederacy in the last year to oversee development in areas of the Haldimand Tract under unresolved land claim.

The organization is trying to establish itself as a planning authority, forcing developers to make applications, present documents and perhaps even pay fees.

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