Highlights from the front page of today’s Times Colonist, the daily fish wrap in Victoria, BC.
Group should be on the hook for estimated $100,000 in policing costs, says mayor
Langford plans to sue a group of protesters to recover the costs of their interference in construction of the new Trans-Canada Highway interchange near Spencer Road, Mayor Stew Young says.
“It’s trying to get money out of people who can’t rub two nickels together, but we have to go after some of them,” Young said Monday.
Langford is still negotiating with the province over who will bear the cost of a massive RCMP operation about two weeks ago in which an estimated 50 to 60 officers surrounded, and then cleared away, a tree-sit protest in the woods between Leigh Road and the highway in order to make way for the interchange.
That operation alone – in which three protesters were charged – could cost the municipality more than $100,000, Young said
“You may not be criminal, but if you put masks on and you block our surveyors and impede us … then we can sue you for our costs. They may not be criminally charged by the RCMP, but we’re going to now go after damages,” Young said.
“That’s hilarious,” protest organizer Zoe Blunt said yesterday when told of Langford’s plans.
“I don’t know what they’re going to recover from people that they haven’t already taken away – their backpacks, their shoes, their coats, their IDs, their wallets. I think he’s beating his chest and he’s trying to intimidate people.”
Blunt said that unlike Young’s “billionaire friends” her only asset is “a five-year-old computer.” She welcomed meeting Langford’s lawyers in court.
“We would like to see all the evidence of all the money that was spent and all the plans that were made and everything that had to do with the transfer of land; and all of their own assets and all of their interests they have in Bear Mountain and other resorts and other land and properties. We would like to get that all on the table,” she said.
Read the whole article here.
For my press release, keep reading.
Throwing Good Money After Bad
Why Mayor Stewart Young wants to sue penniless protestors for the cost of that huge police raid he ordered.
Two weeks after he called in a massive military-style strike against a handful of sleeping campers at the Bear Mountain Tree Sit, Langford Mayor Stewart Young has got the bill, and it’s a doozy. According to today’s Victoria Times Colonist, Young says that the final tally is still being worked out, but Langford’s share of the operation could be over $100,000. The rest of the cost goes to provincial taxpayers.
Young apparently signed a blank cheque on the taxpayer’s account when he called in a small army of police to the site of the controversial Bear Mountain Interchange on February 13. Over fifty RCMP officers, many with assault rifles pointed at protestors, stormed the camp in the pre-dawn hours and evicted five people. Two were charged with mischief. Two others were charged later for stopping construction equipment.
Now Young is threatening to sue those involved with the protest for the cost of the raid. Not only that, he is threatening to sue me in particular — and I haven’t committed any “crime.” I was not arrested, charged, detained, or even questioned about any alleged illegal activity. But I am guilty of disagreeing with Mayor Young’s sickening development ambitions, so he’s threatening to SLAPP me with a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
Young’s police raid racked up well over $100,000 in bills to taxpayers this month. A lawsuit could cost twice that, and it is not likely to be successful. Such a lawsuit by a municipality is almost unprecedented.
Add those taxpayer costs to the $25 million that Langford council is attempting to borrow on behalf of the Bear Mountain developers, and here’s the bottom line: Stewart Young is reckless and irresponsible with other people’s money. His hugely expensive police attack was far out of proportion to any possible threat the campers posed, and now he thinks he can get the money back by suing people who have no assets. In my opinion, Young is unfit to run a lemonade stand, let alone hold public office.
On the morning of the police raid on the tree sit camp, RCMP officers were brought in from as far away as Surrey and Nanaimo for the overkill operation, which left two Langford neighbourhoods behind police lines for three days. Dozens of residents were detained by police every time they entered or left their street. One officer who would not give his name told a protestor there were 300 police involved in the raid and the three days of RCMP roadblocks on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Young’s police adventure and his legal threats violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is still the law of the land — even in Langford.
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