Members of the Lubicon Lake Nation have found themselves back in court to defend their lands, only this time it is their children at the forefront. The Lubicon Lake Nation Youth Council has filed a lawsuit against Northern Sunrise County in an attempt to stop them from unilaterally turning a generation’s old baseball park into a commercial office development.
“This park has been here since the 60’s,” is a quote from Elder, and former Chief, Walter Whitehead in the newvideo released online by the Youth Council who are hoping to get public support in protectingtheir hometown park. Watch the video here: http://vimeo.com/97787332
On December 10, 2013 Northern Sunrise County brought forward a bylaw to rezone the park from its current status into a commercial development. During the public hearing for the bylaw dozens of Lubicon citizens appeared, even with volunteer legal counsel, to oppose the changes and protect their park. However, it was clear that the County officials had their minds made up as they sided in a 4 – 2 vote with the developer’s three staff members who were the only ones to speak in favour of the bylaw. Construction began almost immediately following the ruling despite the developer not having been issued a development permit. That construction was only briefly halted once the Youth Council’s lawyers got involved and demanded that the County enforce their own Land Use Bylaw.
Feeling like their voices and concerns were ignored and the decision had been made before they walked in the door, the youth hit the books to research what could be done about the proceedings with the help of the volunteers in the local law firm Mann & Robinson.
“We found that County bylaws state clearly that all developments must be halted in the event of an appeal to the courts,” said Cynthia Tomlinson. The lawyers for the Youth Council agreed to file an originating motion to appeal to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench only to have County lawyers respond that they would not recognize the action as a formal appeal and that the County would allow construction of the building to continue in the center of the ball diamond without regard to the court action.
For more information visit www.lubiconlakenation.ca.