Foxgate Developments Inc v Doe et al, 2020 ONSC 6529

The Court issued a permanent injunction in favour of Foxgate Developments and Haldimand County to prevent interference with work on a land development known as McKenzie Meadows or any blocking of thoroughfares within Haldimand county. Pleadings filed by Skyler Williams were struck and he was not allowed to participate in the proceedings based on his defiance of prior injunctions. The Court held that Mr. Williams had no authorization to assert Aboriginal rights in this proceeding and found no evidence of objections being raised by any Indigenous groups about the planned subdivision. Mr. Williams was ordered to pay over $160,000 in costs to the applicants. 

Indigenous Law Centre CaseWatch Blog

Foxgate Developments Inc. [“Foxgate”] is a private corporation that is engaged in a land development known as McKenzie Meadows in the County of Haldimand [“Haldimand County”]. These Applicants have been granted and extended interlocutory injunctions, among other things, to prohibit anyone from attending on the subject land without the permission of Foxgate or their agents. The injunctions also prohibited any persons from preventing Foxgate or any of their partners and their agents from working on the development of the approved subdivision. With respect to the Haldimand injunction, no person could block any of the thoroughfares within the jurisdiction of Haldimand County.

During the course of previous hearings of the interlocutory injunctions, Skyler Williams was found to be the leader of protesters who are occupying the subject property, damaging public and private property, and blocking access to public roads. There was no evidence before the Court that Mr. Williams was authorized to represent any Aboriginal or Indigenous group in order to advance a land claim, nor did any Aboriginal or Indigenous group ever sought status to make any land claim in this court action.

Since Foxgate is a private corporation, there is no duty to consult any Aboriginal or Indigenous groups. That duty lies with the Crown in appropriate circumstances. Nevertheless, Foxgate did reach out the Elected Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River. They were not only given an opportunity to have input and express any objections, they entered in an agreement titled “Definitive Agreement”, that has been referred to by the Six Nations of the Grand River as the “Accommodation”. At no time were there any objections made by any Indigenous group about the planned subdivision. In this case, the title given to Foxgate was traced back to the Crown Patent.

Mr. Williams and the protesters have continued to act in such a manner that reflects a willful and complete disregard for the law and the orders of this Court. The activity in and around the highway and streets of Caledonia turned violent. Among other things the protestors threw construction skids, and large truck or tractor tires on the highway from the overpass above the highway. They lit the tires and other large objects on fire. They also lit large heavy equipment on fire. Thick toxic smoked bellowed into the air within the community of Caledonia. Rocks were thrown at the police and their vehicles. Rocks were also thrown at fire department first responders to prevent them from putting the fires out. Their actions demonstrate a complete disregard for the serious and negative consequences of their actions on the community. The escalation of their violent behavior is often followed by Mr. Williams’ projected blame for the violence on others.

This Court gave Mr. Williams an option to reinstate himself and advance any legitimate claims that he wanted to if he complied with the orders of this Court. Foxgate sent him a letter that made it clear that if he chose vacate the subject property, in compliance with the Orders of the Court that Foxgate would assist him in their negotiations with the respective levels of government in regards to compensation they were seeking. There was no reply to Foxgate’s offer. Mr. Williams pleadings are struck. Foxgate and Haldimand County seek to proceed on their request for a permanent injunction. The issue of the permanent injunction shall proceed.

Substantial indemnity costs are appropriate unless the successful party in any way acted unreasonably, in which neither Foxgate nor Haldimand County have. Mr. Williams, however, acted in bad faith. He and the other unknown defendants took the law into their own hands and used self-help to achieve their goals. Mr. Williams openly admitted that he was in contempt of the Court’s orders and if a permanent injunction was granted, he would not comply. The importance of the issues to Foxgate and Haldimand County cannot be overestimated. Substantial sums of money have been invested and many lives have been put on hold due to the conduct of Mr. Williams and the other unknown defendants.