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One case settled, one still in the process

Haldimand County residents seek $5,600,000 from the Ontario Provincial Police and the Province

Natalie Clewley, The Sachem
Published on Jul 19, 2011

Residents living on Sixth Line, Sterling Street and Oneida Road, outside of Caledonia are seeking damages in the amount of $5,600,000 from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Province in relation to the native occupation at the Douglas Creek Estates development in Caledonia.

Involved in the claim that was filed on February 9, 2011 with Evans Sweeny Bordin, a law firm in Hamilton, are approximately 20 plaintiffs who are seeking damages from the OPP and the Pƒrovince for failure to perform their duties.

“This case will not affect the other case that was just settled,” said Andrea Hill, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, referring to the $20 million class action lawsuit that was settled on July 8.

The plantiffs claim they suffered damages from the failure of the OPP to respond to their request for assistance during the protest.

"We opted out of the class action as it did not include any valuation for our property value losses and we also feel that our situation is very unique to many others given our proximity to the occupation for many reasons that affected us emotionally, physically, and financially. We have been working with our lawyers and feel we have suffered a great deal and know we have the support of many,” said a Sixth Line resident who didn’t wish their name to be printed.

“Haldimand County requested the assistance of the Province and the OPP to re-open and ensure passage along Argyle Street South, Sixth Line, Oneida Road and Stirling Street to restore law and order to the community. The OPP and the Province took no steps to ensure passage at common law along Argyle Street South, Sixth Line, Oneida Road, and Stirling Street from April 20, 2006 to May 24, 2006,” stated the claim.

“Until the barricades were taken down any public passage along Argyle Street South, Sixth Line, Oneida Road and Stirling Street was subject to the complete control of the protestors,” the claim stated.

“The OPP failed to provide police services to the residents and the lawless behaviour was never stopped,” said Hill.

The claim also states, “On April 20, 2006 the Stirling Street Bridge was set on fire by Native protestors and destroyed. A resident whose home is immediately adjacent to the Stirling Street Bridge feared that sparks from the burning bridge would burn down his home. The Haldimand County Fire Department was called but was not allowed passage through thebarricades to stop the fire. In order for the homeowner to save his home he climbed on the TV tower attached to his home with a five gallon pail of water to wet the roof of the home.”

Another plantiff stated in the claim their fields were so badly destroyed by ATVs driven by protestors that they could not plant crops to be harvested in the spring of 2007.

“The plaintiffs were afraid to leave their properties for extended periods of time for fear that the properties would be taken over by the protestors,” states in the claim.

Hill noted as of July 15, 2011 the claim is currently in the document discovery process.

“We have issued the statement of claim and the statement of defence. It may take a while to get to the trial process,” she said.