New Musqueam claim, Post 1

With no fanfare on May 11, 2010, the Musqueam Indian Band made a statement of claim against the City of Richmond in the Supreme Court of British Columbia related to the Garden City Lands memorandum of understanding (MOU). Many people regarded the initial Band writ of April 9, 2010, as outrageous, but the new action goes further. You can download the Band’s claim for the details or read a Richmond News article for Nelson Bennett’s view of what’s important.

Going beyond the writ, the new Band claim says that “the Defendant is obligated to”:

  • “jointly develop the TEC Lands with Musqueam and CLC as provided in section 1(11)”
  • “enter into good faith negotiations with Musqueam on an agreement outlining how to develop a joint cultural centre or other facility on the Lands as provided in section 1(12)”

Let’s examine those “obligations.” 

  • The half of the Garden City Lands that the City hoped to buy is called the Public Lands in the MOU. The TEC Lands are 30% of the Public Lands, about 22 acres. They were to be used for a Trade and Exhibition Centre. If that was not possible, they were to instead be jointly developed, with the City and Musqueam-CLC splitting the profits. (“CLC” means Canada Lands Company CLC Limited, the federal land disposer.) However, the TEC section of the MOU seems dependent on the previous section, 1(10), under which CLC would transfer half the Garden City Lands to the City for a specified amount, $4.77 million. As you know, CLC did not do that.
  • Section 1(12) actually states: “Should Musqueam and the City wish to develop a joint cultural centre or other facility on the Public Lands, an agreement outlining how this will be accomplished will be negotiated between Musqueam and the City.” Very obviously, that section imposes no obligation on the city. Even more obviously, the City will not want to develop a joint cultural centre with the Band after trying so hard to treat the Band well and in return being treated the way we’ve been treated.

Note: I’m not drawing on any legal advice that is specific to the new claims. However, I think the above comments are consistent with earlier legal advice to the Garden City Lands Coalition Society.

My best guess is that the Band is using the strategy discussed in “Musqueam Band Strategy 102: The Army.” That post draws mainly on a June 5, 2007, letter from Musqueam Chief Ernest Campbell that threatens “an army of lawyers producing large legal bills for the city and others.” The Garden City Lands Coalition Society’s lawyer has suggested that the City instead retain lawyers who are expert in civil litigation and defend vigorously.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Roland Says:

    Just skimmed over the Musqueam writ:

    IMHO, the Musqueam have simply expanded on the original writ with far more detail. I’ll expand on this later, but I think the Musqueam have a very strong case. I think the fatal flaw was that Council went into the MOU and PSA deals with rose -coloured glasses assuming the GCL would be excluded from the ALR, and didn’t even consider the consequences if it failed. I am just curious if the CLC will piggyback onto any court victory by the Musqueam, I don’t see where they couldn’t, (unless politics has entered into that potential ).


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