Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Our Duty as Party to Treaty

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Dear Mayor DiIanni and Hamilton City Council,

It is with much urgency that we write to demand the city and their contractors immediately cease and desist all construction activity relating to the Red Hill Valley Expressway until such time as the matters relating to Aboriginal treaty rights have been dealt with by the courts.

As you are no doubt aware, court proceedings have been initiated on behalf of Mohawk citizen Larry Green by lawyers Murray Klippenstein and Andrew Orkin. The treaty at stake is the 1701 Albany Treaty which assured the Five Nations "free hunting for us and the heirs and descendants from us the Five Nations forever and that free of all disturbances expecting to be protected therein by the Crown of England."

Mr DiIanni in his oath of office on December 3 made a "solemn" promise to "be faithful and bear true allegiance to her majesty Queen Elizabeth II." We believe that the honour of the Crown is at stake in respecting the 1701 treaty.

By allowing continued tree-cutting in the valley, Mr DiIanni and the rest of city council are essentially acting as though these constitutionally recognized treaties do not exist, which would not be in keeping with bearing true allegiance to the Crown.

We ask for a temporary halt in construction, as the issues of Aboriginal rights in the Red Hill valley have not yet been tested in court. The relationship between representatives of the Crown and the Aboriginal people of this land has far-reaching significance, and all construction must cease until these matters are settled to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Mayor DiIanni, and the city of Hamilton absolutely must take the dignified and morally correct position of stopping further destruction in the valley until this issue is addressed by the courts. To ignore the treaty and the court action in the interest of pushing ahead with the cutting of trees or the blasting of the Niagara Escarpment would bring further shame on Hamilton while perhaps forever damaging the city's international reputation with regards to Aboriginal rights. Further, of course, there is the very real risk of incurring pecuniary damages to the tune of $100-million should the city proceed in defiance of the treaty.

As citizens and residents of Canada we cannot stand idly by while our local government shows contempt for Aboriginal treaty rights and acts in such a way as to bring discredit on our community. We look forward to a prompt reply which fully addresses our serious concerns.

Jane Mulkewich
Murray Lumley
Randy Kay

Hamilton Action for Social Change
P.O. Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
hamilton action for social change

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Lawsuit for Treaty Rights

PRESS CONFERENCE - 2 p.m. Thursday November 27, 2003


HAMILTON, Ont.: Lawyers representing a Six Nations man are commencing legal action against the City of Hamilton to prevent construction of the proposed expressway though the environmentally significant Red Hill Valley in Hamilton.

Lawyers Murray Klippenstein and Andrew Orkin are representing one of the Iroquois Firepeople who lit the Ancestors' Sacred Fire in the Red Hill Valley in early August 2003. The expressway will violate and destroy Iroquois rights pursuant to a major Treaty between the Five Iroquois Nations and the British Crown of 1701.
The $100 million lawsuit will be announced at a PRESS CONFERENCE at the Worker's Arts and Heritage Centre, 2nd Floor, 51 Stuart Street (immediately east of Bay St.), Hamilton, Ontario at 2 p.m. Thursday November 27, 2003.


this media release is presented here for information purposes, Hamilton Action for Social Change is not a party to the lawsuit (although we are certainly happy to see more people stand up to the city for First Nation's rights!)

Monday, November 24, 2003


Walk the walk from the Valley to Queen's Park

BUSES TO QUEEN'S PARK - MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24 - departing from Centre Mall (near Burger King); assemble at 9:00 a.m. - return to Hamilton by 4:00 p.m. (estimate)

Red Hill Valley Roadshow!

A group of Hamilton residents will complete a five-day-trek from Red Hill Valley to Queen's Park, Monday, November 24.

The group and their supporters are expected to arrive at the Provincial Legislature at 11:00 a.m. Monday
At Queen's Park they are hoping to give a cheque of $122 million to Ontario's new cash-strapped Premier, Dalton McGuinty. $120 million is the amount the provincial government has committed to an expressway that will go through Canada's largest urban park - the Red Hill Valley.

The walk began Thursday, November 20 at Hamilton's threatened Red Hill Valley where construction of the Red Hill Creek expressway is set to blast the largest hole ever contemplated (80-metres wide, 15-metres deep and nearly half a kilometre long) in the Niagara Escarpment, a designated World Biosphere reserve.
The Niagara to Tobermory Bruce Trail in Hamilton is currently blocked and guarded by private security at Mount Albion road and Mud Street where the clear-cutting of Carolinian forest has begun in preparation for winter blasting.

The group hopes that Mr. McGuinty and the Environment Minister will take back their $122 million funding for the expressway, and instead reinvest in measures for Hamilton that would curb further urban sprawl, support mass transit and reduce reliance on single occupancy vehicles. Alternatively, Mr. McGuinty might want to take half back and spend the remaining $60 million to cover an alternative highway design that preserves the valley, and expands the existing Highway 20.

Along the route, which took the walkers through Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto, public events were held to show The Red Hill Road Show, a multi-media presentation on the ongoing struggle to save the Red Hill Valley featuring videos from the valley struggle, music and discussion.

At Queen's Park the walkers will request that Mr. McGuinty take back the money for the project and sign a pledge that would see the money applied wisely, in the interest of the health of future generations and the planet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Tuesday, October 28, 2003
2:00pm - 4:00pm
MUSC Marketplace
McMaster University
Enjoy Speakers, Music, Street Theatre, Poetry, Food, & Fun in support of the Red Hill Valley.
Learn about the ongoing struggle to save Hamilton's Red Hill Valley, Canada's largest urban park, from being paved over by an uneccessary, unaffordable, ecologically disastrous expressway. Find out how your vote in the upcoming municipal election can make the crucial difference!
Hear from:
  • Brian McHattie, candidate for Ward 1
  • Carol Bomberry, Six Nations
  • Dr. Jim Quinn and Andrew Loucks, codefendants at the Red Hill injunction trial
  • Dr. George Sorger, McMaster Department of Biology
  • and more! For more information contact Wendy Burston, Department of Biology

Friday, October 24, 2003

Call to Carmen's


Friday October 24, 7:30 a.m. Carmen's Banquet Centre The "Get Hamilton Moving Task Force" Annual General Meeting and �Celebration of the Valley�?????
Oh, please!
What would people celebrating the paving of a valley eat at a breakfast celebration? Crunchy concrete cereal? toasted bagel with asphalt and asparagus spread (whole wheat or sesame seed)? smog and pm10 granola (with organic raisins)? Flattened Flying Squirrel waffles?
What's to celebrate? Toothpicks produced locally from Red Hill Valley? Or the hoped for biggest hole ever blasted in the Niagara Escarpment Bio-Sphere reserve? The paving of paleo-indian burial sites? 44,000 less trees? More traffic, noise and pollution for the east end? Finally paving the last of 14 streams that coursed from mountain to the harbour?
Will part of the proceeds of the breakfast go to the Politician Development Programme's "Frapporti Fund" (award going to the council members most responsible for suing citizens for $100,000 in court costs, named after the rather expensive lawyer hired by the city)
Well, hopefully they'll be eating crow (figuratively speaking), but whatever they are eating, supporters of the natural Red Hill Valley will be there to share an alternative vision: a celebration of the earth and respect for the eco-system that is Red Hill Creek Valley. Placards, banners, noise-makers and musical instruments welcome!
The Elvis Direct Action Fan Club will be on hand to present a special Houndog award to Larry ("the legs") DiIanni* for keeping a bad 1950's idea** alive despite advances in education, science and culture.
And no celebration of the Red Hill Valley would be complete without the presence of THE RED HILL EXPRESSWAY MONSTER (eating your municipal and provincial tax dollars); A HOMELESS FLYING SQUIRREL and a WALKING-TALKING TREE.
DATE: Friday, October 24, 2003
PLACE: Carmen's Banquet Centre, 1520 Stone Church Rd. E. Hamilton
TIME: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. - Continental breakfast
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. - Business meeting with guest speakers
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  Question period on the current status of the Red Hill Valley project

[Organizers of the breakfast announced that] THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS WILL PARTICIPATE: Bob Wade, Mayor, City of Hamilton / Stan Keyes, M.P., Hamilton West / Tony Valeri, M.P., Stoney Creek / Chris Murray, Director of the Red Hill Valley Project /

*DiIanni is the head of the Expressway Implimentation Committee and a Mayoral Candidate
**namely, the Red Hill Creek Expressway, first proposed in 1956, two-years before the hoola-hoop was invented
To enter there as a $5.00 cost - an rsvp deadline was set for September 30 - will they let people in who missed the deadline (since we just found out about this really weird event? We'll see...)

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Citizens Held-Up for 123 grand

City Demands $123,000 from Expressway Opponents
Hamilton City Council has decided to seek $123,000 in court costs from six citizens who oppose the construction of the Red Hill Creek Expressway. The decision was taken today in Committee of the Whole which authorized the City's lawyers to make a written submission to Superior Court Justice Joseph Henderson.

McMaster professor Jim Quinn, one of the six citizens, called the Council's decision "vindictive" and "an attempt to silence opposition to the expressway and prevent discussion of need and alternatives as they've done since 1985".

The six citizens volunteered to present legal arguments against an application for an injunction made by the City in early August to stop protests at the site of planned construction of the proposed expressway. They were among several hundred people who picketed the site and blocked construction vehicles on August 5, 6 and 7. The protestors believed that the City had not received the permits and approvals required to allow construction to begin. They also pointed out that nesting migratory birds on the site were protected from disturbance by federal law.

After filing the injunction application, the City released letters purporting to show that the three required permits were obtained on July 28, July 30 and August 5. However, they filed a report that migratory birds were still nesting on the site on August 21, thus showing that the protestors had actually saved the City from breaking the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Court evidence also showed that the City still does not have other key approvals for the expressway project, including the authority to re-locate 7.6 kilometres of Red Hill Creek, and a permit to excavate 70,000 tonnes of the toxic Rennie Street dump which lies in the path of the proposed road.

Justice Henderson approved the injunction request in a 23-page decision issued on September 12. Despite this, the City has not started work because the site has been occupied by citizens of the Haundenosaunee (Six Nations) Confederacy. On Friday, the City agreed to begin discussions with the Confederacy about treaty rights and aboriginal burial sites in the valley.

City officials claim they ran up $235,000 in legal expenses in the injunction. The City was represented by the Toronto law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson which fielded a team of seven lawyers in the day and a half of court hearings in early September. Court cost awards only allow for reasonable expenses, and make it impossible to recover excessive legal fees.

The six citizens represented themselves and spent less than $500. They each stepped forward voluntarily to argue that the injunction.

For further information:

Don McLean
Chair, Friends of Red Hill Valley

Dr. Jim Quinn

Friday, September 12, 2003

injunction function and first nations solidarity

Expressway opponents vow support for Aboriginal rights

Hamilton, Ont. -- Opponents of the Red Hill Creek Expressway expressed support today for members of the Six Nations Confederacy who are continuing to occupy lands in Hamilton's Red Hill Valley, despite a court injunction granted to the City of Hamilton.

"We agree with the Haudenonsaunee people that this decision has no bearing on their rights," said Jim Quinn, a spokesperson for the ShowStoppers Union, a coalition of individuals and groups opposed to the expressway. "We will try to support their struggle in any way we can."

The ShowStoppers expressed disappointment at the decision of Superior Court Judge Joseph Henderson in granting an injunction that allows work to begin on a bridge-ramp at the end of Greenhill Avenue in east end Hamilton.

"We respect the decision of the court but we will continue to oppose the expressway," Quinn said. "There has been a huge outpouring of support since the beginning of August to keep the Red Hill Valley expressway-free."

ShowStopper pickets successfully prevented the beginning of work at the Greenhill Avenue site in early August by Dufferin Construction. The picketing was peaceful and no arrests were made, in spite of police monitoring of the protest.

On August 11, the city applied to the Ontario Superior Court for an injunction to halt the picketing and allow construction to begin. Six individuals acted as defendants in the case and represented themselves in court hearings on September 5 and 8 against a high-powered team of seven lawyers hired by the City.

Justice Henderson's decision, released earlier today, can be read here (pdf).

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Birds By Law

Protestors Prevented City of Hamilton from Breaking Federal Law

City study confirms that construction site occupied by nesting migratory birds

A City of Hamilton study has confirmed that the citizens who successfully stopped the City from beginning construction of the proposed $220 million Red Hill Creek Expressway, also prevented the City from violating the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Citizens set up picket lines on August 5 near Greenhill Avenue in east Hamilton, and blocked access to a site slated for construction of part of the controversial expressway. They argued that the City did not have a legal right to begin the construction work, partly because of the presence of nesting migratory birds in the proposed construction site, first reported in an August 4 media release by Friends of Red Hill Valley.
The City is now pursing an injunction to prevent protests at the site. The next court appearance is scheduled for 10 am on Friday, September 5 in the John Sopinka Courthouse at 45 Main Street East in Hamilton.
As part of its court affidavits, the City has released a study conducted by its own consultants which confirms that nesting migratory birds were still on the construction site as late as August 21. The study was conducted by Karl Konze of Dougan and Associates. He says the nests he found may be active until this week and recommends that a further bird survey be carried out prior to any attempt to start construction. A continued 'nest-in' by the birds may result in further postponement of construction.
It is clear, however, that no study was conducted by the City prior to its attempt to start construction in early August. If this construction had been allowed to proceed, the City would have violated the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act which makes it an offence to "disturb, destroy or take a nest, egg, nest shelter, eider duck shelter or duck box of a migratory bird".
The City is responsible for checking details such as these before rushing to start construction work. "In their rush to pave the valley, the City continues to show its lack of care and concern for the environment and the law," said Friends of Red Hill chair Don McLean. "Never mind that if the city gets their road these birds will be homeless next year when they return to find 44,000 trees cut down to make way for pavement."
Far from thanking the protestors from preventing the City from violating federal law, Hamilton has threatened protesters with criminal charges and civil lawsuits including seizing people's homes to cover court costs and any delays to construction.
Mr. Konze's court affidivat also includes a "Red Hill Valley Project - Nesting Bird Survey and Due Diligence Protocol" dated "August 2003" that requires bird surveys to be conducted within four days of the proposed start of construction. It appears this protocol was developed AFTER the nesting birds were pointed out by Friends of Red Hill Valley, and is another positive result of the protestors' actions in stopping the construction work.
An electronic copy of Mr. Konze's affidavit is available on request.

contact Friends of Red Hill Valley for more information

Thursday, August 21, 2003


Save Red Hill Creek
BY GORD PERKS (EYE Magazine, Thursday, August 21, 2003 -ENVIRO)

We must do what we can to stop the construction of the Red Hill Creek Expressway. We must because we treasure important ecosystems, because we oppose sprawling, car-dependent development and because we are contesting what is meant by "democracy." Red Hill is both a precious place and a precious political moment.

The expressway is planned as a 7.5-kilometre highway running through the Red Hill Creek Valley, which snakes down from the Niagara Escarpment to the east end of Lake Ontario. Transportation planners who work from different maps see the expressway connecting the Lincoln Alexander Parkway to the QEW.

Red Hill Creek Valley is made up of over 700 hectares of mostly forested natural area and parkland. It has remarkably diverse plant, mammal, bird, fish and butterfly populations. Over half of the valley is in the United Nations-designated Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. Building the expressway would require blowing the biggest man-made hole ever through the escarpment, then rerouting the creek through a new 7.6-kilometre trench, and finally clearing a quarter of the valley and stripping out 41,000 trees. A native band, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, have asserted their inherent rights to camp, hunt and fish in the Red Hill Creek Valley. They have told the city to stop the project and have issued a permit to protesters to occupy the land and frustrate construction efforts. Also at issue are 22 archaeological sites in the valley.

The two purposes of the road are: 1) to add the final link to a trucking route that runs from the American Midwest, across southern Ontario, over to New York state. Some call this the NAFTA highway. It would allow truckers to bypass tolls in the US, and would shave 9 kilometres off the current route; 2) to open up the area south of Hamilton for subdivision development. Hungry developers are already queuing up at the Ontario Municipal Board to win approval for plans to slap sprawl on this spot.

For a visceral understanding of the issues at stake, meditate on two questions: what would Toronto (and Markham) be like if we hadn't built the Don Valley Parkway? What would Toronto be like if the Spadina Expressway hadn't been stopped? Look deeper into the Spadina question. Look beyond the fact that Forest Hill, the Annex and Chinatown would have been blasted to smithereens. Apply the aphorism "to the victor, the spoils."

The Spadina Expressway battle was a watershed moment in the civic life of Toronto. It made heroes of people like Jane Jacobs and the late Colin Vaughn. It emboldened others from the struggle to do still more. They include some of the Toronto School Board trustees who brought in heritage language programs and a host of other progressive reforms that Harrisites haven't been able to completely dismantle. The Spadina struggle made way for the famous "reform councils" at Toronto City Hall, councils that saved and strengthened the neighbourhood character of the city and developed world-renowned programs such as the Healthy City model.

The politics that brought us all of this were legitimized because they triumphed in the Spadina Expressway battle. How different things would be if the other politics had prevailed. Replace protest, street theatre, marches, civil disobedience and an alphabet soup of community organizations with backroom deals, bureaucratic control and growth at any cost. Civic duty in this scenario is reduced to paying taxes on time, following rules and picking a candidate from a ballot just as you would pick a brand of soft drink from a variety store shelf.

Back to the Red Hill battle: the question of which politics will be honoured, legitimized and tolerated is precisely what is in play. Should the expressway be built just because the duly elected Hamilton City Council has decided that it should be? Should protesters back off because Hamilton's city fathers are seeking a court injunction to end the protests and criminalize the native people and activists who have been delaying construction these past three weeks? What is your civic duty?

If you answer this last question the same way that hundreds of anti-expressway Hamiltonians have answered it, and you want to join the battle against the expressway, you can find out what help is needed by going to

I should acknowledge my friend Don McLean for much of the information above. For well over a decade, Don has been an awe-inspiring researcher and organizer on this issue.


This was written with pencil and paper during the big blackout. For reacquainting me with that pleasure, I want to thank everyone who pushed for deregulation, privatization and free trade in electricity. I also want to thank the energy technocrats who built a big, centralized, brittle power system while pooh-poohing environmentalists who pleaded for conservation and green, small-scale, flexible power systems.

Gord Perks is a campaigner with the Toronto Environmental Alliance. Enviro appears every two weeks.


On Red Hill

A quarter-century scrap over controversial expressway opens a legal hornet's nest

By JOHN BACHER, NOW Magazine, Thursday, August 21, 2003

Hamilton ecologists have re moved their banners and their protest tents from the golden trefoil-dappled meadow at the foot of Greenhill Avenue. Now nothing is left but the rustle of the tall grasses. But after a quarter-century contest over the proposed Red Hill expressway, this silence will clearly be temporary. Last Friday (August 15) an agreement was reached in court whereby environmentalists will leave the site in exchange for a delay in construction of the much-disputed highway that is, until September 3, when court proceedings begin on a city of Hamilton bid to remove anyone blocking construction.

The question is, will the city be able to steamroll over protests from an astounding number of constituencies to legally proceed? The injunction move certainly has an air of desperation about it. The city watched helplessly last week as protest campers stopped construction trucks from beginning a feeder road.

And municipal authorities must know what a legal hornet's nest their bid is sure to stir up, including debates over the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Fisheries Act, the Planning Act and the Niagara Escarpment Act. Not to mention a 300-year-old treaty between the Iroquois and the British Crown, called a Deed of Trust, which may fundamentally throw into question land tenures for all of southern Ontario.

Indeed, the most sweeping objections in Friday's courtroom drama came from lawyer Paul Williams, representing the Iroquois Confederacy at Six Nations near Brantford. The Red Hill Valley has 22 identified archaeological sites, including an 11,000-year-old site and a native village whose partial excavation has generated over 56,000 artifacts.

It was Williams's treaty claims that shook up the proceedings. Referring to the 1701 treaty, he said it gave the British the obligation to act as an agent of the Iroquois with respect to an area of land reserved for them, "an area which includes southern Ontario and was known as the Beaver Hunting Ground.''

To this, Superior Court Justice David Crane in some degree of shock responded, "Are you saying the city of Hamilton is a hunting ground?"

Answered Williams, "Although our people have not hunted in the Red Hill Valley for many years, it is viewed by our people as a hunting ground, an area where we can gather the fruits of nature. Our role here is as protector of the valley.''

This explains why in April the Confederacy ordered all digging in the valley to cease and then posted no-trespassing signs, making it clear that these were not directed at hikers. Though they denied a permit to the city of Hamilton, the Confederacy gave one to campers protesting the construction. These permits pledged those who entered to abide by the Iroquois Great Law of Peace and to refrain from "violence, verbal and physical, towards any person'' and to "not damage property.''

So now the city is facing the combined opposition of bird watchers, eco activists and a prestigious traditional First Nation government. And while the Friends of Red Hill Valley folk were party to the vacating deal, Six Nations traditionalists who don't recognize the Canadian court system are maintaining their own parallel camp in the black walnut and oak forest that guards the slope of the Red Hill Creek's valley. Deep in these woods, near the centre of the designated construction site, they have built what they call a "round house," an arbour protecting what they say is a sacred fire.

Nature lovers can only hope it keeps on burning.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

calling the columnist on colonialism

First Nations have a claim

RE: Six Nations' Red Hill claim defies native history (Aug. 20).
Ignorance of and inaccuracies about First Nations history have once again reared their ugly heads. Andrew Dreschel's commentary about Six Nations' "flim-flammery" not only smacks of colonialism and conceit, but misleads readers to believe in erroneous information.

Dreschel claims that the Five Nations had been driven out of the area north of Lakes Erie and Ontario a decade or so before 1701 by the Ojibwa. For the record, the Five Nations withdrew peacefully and orderly to national territories in present-day upstate New York to provide reinforcements against attacks by the French.

Although the Ojibwa did indeed compete with the Five Nations for rich fur resources, there was no clear victor. In 1700, they eventually entered into a mutually binding treaty to hold in common the hunting grounds north of Lakes Erie and Ontario. This treaty ended the beaver wars between the Five Nations and Ojibwa, and was regularly renewed thereafter.

Dreschel also writes that the English "Crown retained the right to use and develop the land." In actuality, the Five Nations placed their hunting grounds in present-day Ontario under English protection by virtue of the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 to maintain continued and unimpeded access to vital hunting grounds and prevent encroachment by Europeans.

Dreschel implies conservation is incompatible with hunting rights. Indeed, conservation is integral to ensuring a viable hunting ground. The Five (later Six) Nations have always been sensitive to the need to cultivate game, fish and food supplies as well as the relationship between earth and game: the delicate balance of conservation and hunting.

Dreschel questions whether the protection of hunting grounds in the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 extends to the present- day Red Hill valley because provincial laws prevent hunting in densely populated urban areas such as the Red Hill valley. This appears to be based on the erroneous assumption that the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 only protects the right to hunt with firearms, which activity would threaten human life in urban areas. However, the protection of hunting rights in the Nanfan Treaty of 1701 includes a broad range of hunting, trapping, fishing and harvesting activities that do not threaten human life in urban areas. In addition, wherever treaty or aboriginal rights have been asserted by a First Nation, an obligation to consult is imposed. The Crown or third parties who will be using land or resources in such a way as to affect an aboriginal or treaty right must consult in good faith with that First Nation and reasonably accommodate their interests.

Dreschel's commentary is based on contentions demonstrating, at a minimum, historical ignorance. Misguided and erroneous information only furthers the divide between Canadians and First Nations at a time when we urgently need to work together in cooperation. Whitewashing history? To Dreschel, we say: Do your homework.
Chief Roberta Jamieson, Six Nations, Ohsweken.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Red Hill Rally


1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Albright Avenue at Harrisford (off Mount Albion Road)

Calling all artists, musicians, poets, writers, performers and nature lovers: come to the Sunday August 17 from 1 - 5 pm. event at Albright Ave. near entrance to the Red Hill Valley (Public Park) off Mount Albion Road.
Come join the fun and show your support. There is the sacred flame lodge. Artists come draw paint, sculpt and perform. Musicians are welcome to bring their instrument. We hope there will be a drum circle. Poets and writers can come and do a reading. There will be many activities, e.g., nature walks, workshops, games, ceremonies, possible learning circles, et cetera. It is potluck so please bring food, water, non-alcoholic beverages, et cetera.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

View from the Valley


by Randy Kay
August 14-20, 2003
Hamilton City Bylaw 01–219 makes it illegal for people to use green space they have been using for several decades at Greenhill Avenue. The bylaw warning against “trespassing” came into effect 7am Tuesday, August 5, 2003, the day after several hundred people rallied for the adjacent Red Hill Valley. A week later, people are still camping on the site, neighbours continue to walk their dogs, children play, adults stroll or jog down the footpath to Red Hill Valley, all in contravention of the bylaw.

The Greenhill Community Garden, located at the site of proposed on–ramps for the $220–million Red Hill Creek Expressway, is being tended despite signs posted by the city of Hamilton threatening people with trespassing charges. Twelve–year–old Patricia Nowak of Harrisford Drive was there last Thursday evening (August 7) helping keep the Greenhill Community Garden bird–feeder filled with seed.

“A lot of animals and trees are going to die because of the road. I hope they change their minds about building this and just leave it,” she says as she stretches to pour seed into the feeder perched atop the custom–painted Greenhill Community Garden sign. Brown–eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers and False Sunflowers nod in the breeze beneath the sign. The flowers, transplanted to the site August 4, are being watered by volunteers with the aid of neighbours’ hoses.

Across the field, people open their back gates and walk into the 01–219 trespass zone. Margaret Hastings stands in the off–limits area in her pyjamas and talks with her Brookstream Court neighbours Angie Blaschuk and Donna Staruck. Hastings has lived in the area for 28 years. She’s had a long–term relationship with the Expressway project.

“It raises its ugly head, then it lies down again, raises and lies down” she relates. She thinks the trespass threat is “ridiculous.” “People have been walking here a long time, and hopefully will continue to do so.” Blaschuk has lived on Brookstream for 20 years. “Who is to say I can’t go through here to go to the mall to do my shopping as I’ve always done? I can’t see how I’m trespassing on park land.”

“I’m coming out here with the dog and I’m walking up there until someone tells me I can’t. I’m not stopping because someone says ‘no’ after I’ve been doing it all these years,” Staruck declares. These residents only received a letter from the city on July 4 notifying them of impending construction including noise walls that will go up at the back of their properties.

The three women join other area residents and activists from across the city at nightly outdoor meetings at the site. People discuss tasks and strategy in their ongoing efforts to save the valley. Oakville–based Dufferin Construction has refused to come back to the area until protesters are removed. They have also refused to take part in discussions with protesters. Mayor Wade refuses to discuss anything but implementation of the road, and is seeking a court order to end the pickets at Greenhill and Albright roads. Donna Staruck’s husband Joe says the lack of process has been frustrating.

“I just get pissed off at the way government forces their way onto people without going through the whole process properly. Nobody [from the city] has said anything to me yet, and I’ve lived here for 20 years. This nonsense about killing the last green we have is sheer stupidity.”

At City Council last Tuesday, Ward 15 councillor Margaret McCarthy asked for a referendum on the Red Hill Expressway issue to allow citizens a voice. She was supported by councillors Andrea Horwath (Ward 2) and Dave Braden (Ward 14). The remainder of councillors present voted the motion down.

Back at the Greenhill Community Garden they helped to build, nine–year–old Jessika and her friends are sharing concerns about noise and air pollution as well as the impact the road will have on wildlife. Children in the area are especially vulnerable to the negative health impacts of the expressway, with asthma being all too common for the east–end kids. Losing the access to nature they currently enjoy would also be a blow to their quality of life.

So far, The Showstoppers, a coalition of people opposed to the destruction of the valley, have prevented Dufferin from taking vehicles onto the site. Showstoppers have initiated attempts at dialogue with the city and the contractor, and refuse to let any destruction take place until outstanding issues are addressed. Issues include the likely presence of migratory birds in the area which could trigger a federal Migratory Birds Convention Act limiting activity that would disturb their nesting and mating, the lack of permits to undertake work in the valley including a Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) permit, and outstanding First Nations issues.

The Showstoppers and Friends of Red Hill Valley have been issued a permit from the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), who have inherent Aboriginal rights to camp, hunt, and fish in the Red Hill Valley.

Along with the right to use the valley, the Haudenosaunee have the responsibility of protecting the valley for future generations. They have not issued any permits to the city.

Arrests have been threatened but so far avoided. A private security firm keeps a wary eye on the 24–7 protest.

And so it is, beneath the shadow of threatened lawsuits, criminal charges, heavy machinery and bylaw 01–219 that the first wave of citizen rebellion against the Red Hill Creek Expressway has taken root at Greenhill Avenue.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

The King of Satire?

Elvis Busted?

Presentation of HOUND DOG AWARD nixed by City's Court Proceedings

For immediate release, Wednesday, August 13, 2003 Hamilton Ont. - A pro-Red Hill Valley/Elvis fan-club protest group is "all shook up" over the cancellation of their proposed presentation of a "Hound Dog Award" to Hamilton City Council.
Hamilton City Council was chosen to receive the award for their efforts to keep alive a bad 1950s idea despite advances in education, science and culture: namely, the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
The Mayor of Hamilton's office refused to entertain the award which was to be presented at Wednesday's (August 13) council meeting, The award was timed to coincide with Elvis Week (Saturday, August 9 - Sunday, August 17)

An e-mail from the Mayor's office sent Monday pooh-poohed the ceremony: "Your request for an opportunity to present Council with a satirical award related to the Red Hill Creek denied as the matter of the Red Hill Creek Expressway is now before the Court in legal proceedings and it is therefore inappropriate for Council or staff to accept and/or make delegations, presentations, comments on the matter."

The group proposing the award, calling themselves the 50 WABIs (The 50's were a bad idea* and so is this road) intended to present council with a life-size gold and silver plastic Elvis bust ($29.99 at select corner stores) accompanied by a short speech.
"50 years ago, in the age before civil rights and women's rights; when TV was new and black and white; when people pondered where to build the family bomb shelter and kids learned to 'duck and cover' in case of nuclear war; when women wore gloves and men wore hats; in this context, in 1956, two-years before the hoola-hoop, the Red Hill Valley expressway is first proposed.
"Even 50's icon Elvis Presley changed from his hip-shaking, black-leather clad rebel, to morph into his 70's rhinestone-studded Vegas Elvis; yet, while Elvis changed (some say for the worse) and we've moved past most of the bad old 50's ideas, a few folks still cling to the outdated urban Expressway as a panacea for what ails the city.
"Sadly, tragically, Elvis never dealt with his terrible drug addiction, and as a result he got pretty bloated, sick and (some say) died at home at Graceland, August 16, 1977. We hope a similar fate will not befall the city of Hamilton due to the current addiction to building a $220-million expressway in a natural river valley, and spending money we haven't got."
The city of Hamilton is currently seeking an injunction to end a week of protests that have so far prevented the destruction of the valley. The City will make their motion for an injunction FRIDAY AUGUST 15, 10:00 AM at HAMILTON COURT HOUSE (45 Main Street East). 
Protesters have already received letters from the city threatening, along with criminal charges, civil actions to seize their assets- including their homes- to cover any costs incurred by delays.
"Not content to just make a threatened species of flying squirrel homeless, the city is going after peoples' homes for defending the valley and its inhabitants," says Randy "Don't Be Cruel" Kay. "If the city gets their way we'll all be singing "Jailhouse Rock" for exercising our constitutionally protected rights."
According to Kay, the relationship between the city and its citizens is definitely at a low point: "As Elvis would say, "we cant go on together, with suspicious minds."

*not all ideas of the 1950's were bad.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Not Goodbye - the beginning of Nonviolent Resistance

Goodbye to Red Hill valley?

Protesters say farewell as bulldozers poised to make east Hamilton greenspace a construction zone starting today

By Lori Fazari
The Hamilton Spectator. Tuesday August 5, 2003 (front page) Hundreds of people came out to say farewell (sic) to Red Hill valley as they knew it. Today bulldozers arrive and begin work on the new north-south road.
When Brian Tammi wakes up in his tent this morning, he'll be breaking city bylaw number 01-219, which has to do with municipal parks.
Tammi and his fellow campers are well aware of that. It's the reason they set up camp this weekend on a patch of land at the end of Greenhill Avenue, off Mount Albion Road in the east end.
This morning, the green space officially becomes a construction zone, the physical start of building the Red Hill Creek Expressway.
"No entry beyond this point," says the sign posted at the edge of the grass.
But Tammi, 18, and other activists are making a last-ditch effort to stop the start of construction and show their opposition to paving the Red Hill valley.
This fight's been going on long before Tammi's time, decades before he was born. But the moment has arrived for bulldozers to begin work on the expressway that will connect the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway on the Mountain to the Queen Elizabeth Way in east Hamilton.
Dufferin Construction crews were to arrive early this morning at the eastern edge of the valley, at the dead-end of Greenhill Avenue, which will be extended to connect with on and off ramps to the expressway.
Yesterday, protesters, neighbours and those drawn by the sight of the crowd of hundreds spent the afternoon in the sun in the park, listening to anti-expressway speakers. They gathered for a group picture, with a line of trees in the background, and held a potluck.
Tammi was the first one here, Saturday afternoon.
Others were supposed to camp out with him that night but couldn't make it, so it was him alone -- one man with a tent and tarp, camping supplies and the conviction that the expressway is a bad idea.
"This expressway is, for lack of a better word, silly," he said yesterday afternoon, sitting by the campers' tents while the crowd listened to one speaker after another.
"Economically, environmentally, legally, it's not sound."
Tammi often rides his mountain bike on the valley trails. On Saturday he was loaded down with gear, so his mother dropped him off at Greenhill Avenue, just before the rain started pouring.
He camped in the rain here just last month. Expressway opponents spent a weekend camping and planning ways to block the start of construction without violence. Tammi said some people were scared off from coming out this time, after the city sent a letter threatening to arrest or sue protesters.
"It's just bullying tactics and it's worked," he said.
Things were peaceful on the Civic Holiday weekend. Tammi was joined Sunday by other protesters, six of whom camped out with him that night. They spent the afternoon digging out a circle of grass to plant flowers in a Greenhill Community Garden, topped with a birdhouse. Their food was plentiful, with several watermelons for the potluck.
Tammi has been involved in many a protest and can't understand why more people don't get involved. "That's disgusting that people think they can't change anything," he said. "Apathy rules."
He wasn't sure what to expect this morning when construction crews arrive. "I don't plan to risk arrest," he said. "If they ask me to leave, I'll leave and I'll just return when it cools down."
As long as he stays off the grass, as required under bylaw 01-219.
Haudenosaunee Permit Granted to Showstoppers and Friends of Red Hill
A permit to camp in the Red Hill Valley has been granted to representatives of two groups who are interested in protecting the ecology of the valley.
The Friends of Red Hill and the Showstoppers have been granted permits by the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse), who have inherent Aboriginal rights to camp, hunt, and fish in the Red Hill Valley. Along with the right to use the valley, the Haudenosaunee have the responsibility of protecting the valley for future generations. The Haudenosaunee people, whose traditional territory stretches between modern-day United States and Canada, lived in harmony with the natural world for hundreds and thousands of years, but in today's world, we face new environmental problems that our ancestors never had to consider.
The Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force was formed about ten years ago to work towards solutions of some of these environmental problems. More information about the Task Force can be found at
Norm Jacobs, delegate to the Haudenosaunee Task Force, is currently in hospital in Hamilton and was unable to personally attend the rally in Red Hill Valley yesterday. On behalf of Norm Jacobs and the Haudenosaunee people, yesterday's rally was opened with the traditional Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving address, by Al Loft. Mr. Loft gave some background information about the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force and announced that permits had been granted to the Showstoppers and to Friends of Red Hill.
The permit is valid only if the permit-holders abide by both Kaianara:kowa (the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace), and the Showstoppers "Basis of Unity". The Basis of Unity consists of the following six points:
  • Our attitude will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect towards all people we encounter.
  • We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
  • We will not damage any property.
  • We will not bring or use any drugs or alcohol other than for medical purposes.
  • We will carry no weapons.
  • We will make decisions by consensus.
The Haudenosaunee have never granted a permit to the City of Hamilton, and have not signed any agreements with the City of Hamilton about the Red Hill valley. The City of Hamilton signed an agreement with the Six Nations band council, as represented by Chief Roberta Jamieson, on June 30, 2003. The City of Hamilton and Six Nations have agreed to appoint a city-paid facilitator for discussions about archaeological activity in the Red Hill valley. However, the Six Nations band council is only one of the stakeholders with regard to archaeological activity in the valley, and the City of Hamilton also has a responsibility to consult with other stakeholders including the Haudenosaunee, the Mississaugas of the New Credit, and others.

The Sun on Red Hill

Rally rips new Hamilton Road

Expressway through greenbelt

Toronto Sun, Page 19, Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Several hundred people rallied in east Hamilton yesterday to stop the construction of a four-lane highway through one of the city's largest greenbelts.
Work is set to start today on the first ramp of the Red Hill Creek Expressway, and eight-km freeway linking Hwy 403 to the QEW.
"We need to stop the destruction of over 40,000 trees in the Red Hill Valley," protest organizer David Cohen said from the Greenhill Ave. construction site.
Some participants were planning to stay overnight at the site so they could be there when work crews arrive. They plan to use "every peaceful means at their disposal" to convince Hamilton to halt the four-year, $220-million project, Cohen said.
Even though half the cost of the epressway will be covered by the province, Cohen said critics are opposed to the "tremendous tax burden" it will put on city residents.
City staff were not available for comment yesterday, but in a statement Friday, Hamilton's city manager Bob Robertson urged protesters not to interfere with a "democratic decision that was taken years ago, after years of study on this much-needed transportation route."
Robertson said the city will take legal action against anyone who causes costly delays to the project.
"If they decide to take illegal actions that drive up costs, the city will have no choice but to seek to recover those costs from the persons who are responsible," Robertson said.

Monday, August 4, 2003


Publicly Oppose the Plans to Cut Valley Trees

Rally, Monday August 4, 1:00 - Greenhill

Friends of Red Hill Valley and other organizations invite you to a "Rally for the Valley" on civic holiday, Monday, August 4 at 1 pm. The City is pushing ahead with construction despite not having numerous approvals and permits. It is crucial that people call them to account. Please bring your friends, neighbours, relatives.
The City has announced plans to begin construction of the Greenhill Avenue interchange in the first week of August.
We expect they will try to start this work on August 5.
The $3.3 million contract has been awarded to Dufferin Construction. It includes extending Greenhill Avenue westward from Mt. Albion Road down an unopened right-of-way bordering about 50 homes, erecting noise walls, and building a bridge to allow the planned expressway to pass under the road. Slightly more than half a hectare of valley lands are scheduled to be cleared as part of this work. While this is less than one percent of the planned destruction associated with the expressway, it is the first significant damage.
The August 4 event will include the planting of a garden of hope (please bring trees or other plants, soil, etc.) as well as the Rally. The location is the dead end of Greenhill Avenue, one block west of Mt. Albion Road at Harrisford Drive. Parking in this area is limited, so please try to car pool, bike or use the Parkdale bus if possible.

Campout Coverage

Hamilton Indymedia has posted extensive coverage of the July 4-6 campout in the valley by the Showstoppers Union, including photos of "tree huggers" and a portion of the speech by mayoralty candidate Dave Christopherson.

Expressway Argument Dealt Another Blow

The economic reasons given for building a north-south expressway have suffered another major setback. Over the past few months, the main economic argument of expressway supporters has been the necessity to increase industrial development in Hamilton. The north-south road is supposed to help by improving access to the East Mountain Business Park and the North Glanbrook Business Park that lies immediately south of it. While both of these areas are serviced by the Linc, the valley road allegedly will make them more attractive for new industrial development, especially the North Glanbrook site where most of the land is vacant (most of the East Mountain area is already occupied).

There are a number of flaws in this argument and some have been identified by the City and its hired consultants. For example, they admit that (1) the North Glanbrook lands are not serviced and it is unprofitable for their private owners to provide the services to attract new industry; (2) it will cost the City nearly $50 million to provide the necessary services; (3) there is no current market interest in purchasing these lands for industrial development; (4) the owners of the lands are actively demanding that their lands be rezoned to much more profitable residential uses; (5) residential development in greenfield areas doesn't pay for itself so more of it will simply make the City's financial position worse; (6) even if the City refuses to rezone these lands to residential, the owners would likely overcome this through an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
In light of these facts, the Economic Development department at the City has proposed a fairly desperate gamble:build the expressway AND provide enough subsidies to the private owners to make it sufficiently profitable for them to accept industrial development on these lands. The advocates of this position candidly admit that it has two major problems -- the City can't afford to subsidize the landowners, and such subsidies are currently illegal under Ontario law (in order to prevent cities from getting caught in an increasingly expensive bidding war for new development). In fact, the scheme is even riskier since it rests on a unproven prediction that these steps will convince companies to want to move to Hamilton.

In the last few days, a provincial government decision has unravelled the argument. The City has been attempting to expand its urban boundary out to Fifty Road in Winona. This step was supposed to add enough land for residential development to create a 20-year supply. Then the City could argue that any attempt to convert North Glanbrook to residential was unreasonable or premature. Council eagerly approved the expansion into Winona, despite the fact that these are prime agricultural lands, and much of them are irreplacable tenderfruit lands found no where else in Ontario. Like so much done in Hamilton, this move broke the rules. This time it was so blatant that even the Eves government couldn't stomach it. They have objected to the expansion and forced the City to back down.

This leaves the North Glanbrook landowners in a much stronger position to argue that their lands should be rezoned to residential, and pretty much ensures that if the expressway is built, it will simply generate (and subsidize) more unsustainable and very expensive sprawl. Will it convince the gamblers to back down? The only guarantee is the November 10 elections for City Council.



For Immediate Release August 3, 2003
Hamilton, Ont. -- With work to start Tuesday, August 5 on a component of a proposed expressway in an east Hamilton valley, opponents of the road are vowing to use every peaceful means at their disposal to convince the City of Hamilton not to go ahead with construction.
On Monday, August 4, beginning at 1 p.m., opponents of the expressway will gather a point just east of the Red Hill Valley for a rally and a street dance.
A garden of hope will be planted in a green space that is to be turned into a ramp and bridge for the expressway. The location for these events is at the western end of Greenhill Ave. (off Mount Albion Road)
The proposed expressway will see 93 hectares of the Red Hill Valley cleared and a similar additional amount of land "negatively impacted" in what is one of the most significant urban green spaces in Canada. At least 41,000 trees will be cut down and replaced with 54 hectares of pavement.
Total cost of the expressway is now estimated at $220 million, well over $40 million a mile. Hamilton's external debt is expected to triple by 2006, to over $1,000 per person.
More information about the expressway and its expected effects can be found on the website of Friends of Red Hill Valley at

Saturday, August 2, 2003

Showstoppers under the gun

Protest must be peaceful

Police to watch as Red Hill work begins

By Eric McGuinness The Hamilton Spectator, Saturday, August 2, 2003.
Hamilton police say they weren't consulted about a city letter threatening Red Hill Creek Expressway opponents with lawsuits or arrests for any attempts to delay construction. Deputy Chief Brian Mullan says police understand the city's position, but remain neutral in the dispute over putting a road through Red Hill Valley.

What will happen next week when the anti-expressway Union of Showstoppers says its members will use non-violent civil disobedience to halt construction?

Mullan says: "We acknowledge an individual's right to protest and demonstrate. We as a police service take the position that when possible we will facilitate that. When behaviour becomes unlawful and public safety is in jeopardy, we will step in and take the necessary steps to protect public safety."

Signs are already up warning that the area around Greenhill Avenue will be closed to the public at 7 a.m. Tuesday, and save-the-valley groups plan a rally at the site while it remains open. Organizers say there will be walks, talks and a mass photo shoot, among other activities, starting at 1 p.m. on Civic Holiday Monday. The gathering will be on the eastern edge of the valley, where Greenhill dead-ends off Mt. Albion Road.

Hamilton West NDP MPP David Christopherson, a mayoral hopeful and expressway critic who will speak at the rally, says the warning letter sent to selected expressway foes "sure smacks of bully tactics. Whether that was the intent or not, that's how it looks."

Former councillor Fred Eisenberger, also running for the mayor's chair, considers it "overkill" and "more than was necessary," although he supports the expressway and says everyone should accept that it's going ahead.
City manager Bob Robertson said yesterday the letter was approved by a staff-level committee he chairs, one that has consulted former deputy police chief Christine Silverberg, recently retained on Hamilton's behalf by the city's Red Hill lawyer, David Estrin. Silverberg, a former Calgary police chief, was used by the city last year in talks with native leaders concerned about the valley's archaeological sites.

An aide said Mayor Bob Wade wasn't available for comment yesterday and acting city solicitor Elaine Holt, author of the letter, did not return a call from The Spectator.

The letter, which Robertson says went to 10 to 20 people, said the city could file multimillion-dollar lawsuits against those delaying work and that those who couldn't pay might see their homes seized and sold.

Canadian environmental lawyer David Boyd calls it "extraordinary" and a "slick" move to intimidate protesters without letting them respond.

Boyd, a research associate at the University of Victoria and former executive director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, said it's not unusual for environmental activists to be sued, but the suits are generally used only to get a court injunction to stop demonstrations. They almost never go to court.

Boyd says what's unusual is that protesters haven't done anything to block construction, and it's a government going after environmentalists.

"That's what's odd about the situation. No one has done anything remotely unlawful. And in most cases, it's a corporation wearing the black hat, not a democratically elected government."

Boyd said defendants in a "strategic lawsuit to suppress public participation" have means to fight back, but Hamilton's letter only threatens legal action, so "there is little recipients can do to defend themselves. It's fairly slick for the city to do this by means of a threatening letter."

Julie Brezden, of the Red Hill Neighbourhood Association, complained yesterday the city hasn't consulted area residents about construction-related issues even though a recently distributed "neighbour's guide" said local issues were to be addressed at meetings in June and July.

Robertson offered no explanation for the lack of meetings, but said something could be set up quickly to answer questions.

Friday, August 1, 2003


Red Hill trespassers warned

City letter threatening arrest or lawsuits called 'appalling tactic'

By Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator, Friday, August 1, 2003

The City of Hamilton is threatening to arrest Red Hill Creek Expressway protesters or sue them and seize their houses if construction is slowed or stopped.

The warning was delivered yesterday afternoon, with the first interchange work in the Red Hill Valley scheduled to start Tuesday. A six-page e-mail message to opposition leaders such as Don McLean of Friends of Red Hill Valley and David Cohen of the Showstoppers Union says it will be illegal to enter the valley at the dead end of Greenhill Avenue after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

That warning appears to apply to anyone who enters the construction area but it was sent specifically to protest leaders who have vowed to stop the highway. Mayor Bob Wade couldn't be reached for comment last night, nor could senior city officials.

Dufferin Construction is expected to start building a bridge Tuesday over the route of the expressway that will connect the cross-Mountain Lincoln Alexander Parkway to the Queen Elizabeth Way in east Hamilton.
Paul Muldoon, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, is outraged by the letter, saying it's wrong for the city to presume expressway opponents intend to break the law.

"They must presume any protest will be a lawful assembly, that people know the rights and responsibilities of a citizen," he said yesterday. Muldoon, a Hamilton native who has led anti-expressway legal action, called the city letter "an appalling tactic that speaks loads about how this council views its own electorate."

Councillor Larry Di Ianni, chair of the expressway implementation committee, said he hadn't seen the letter from acting city solicitor Elaine Holt, but "from what staff say, I wouldn't characterize it as a threat, but rather information.

"I've heard Paul Muldoon's rhetoric before and I respectfully disagree with it. We expect things will go peacefully and everyone will respect the law. We want to give people the opportunity and right to protest and are saying, 'Here are the laws, we hope people will stay on the right side, and here are the consequences if people go beyond.'"

Those consequences, as outlined by Holt, include being sued for any loss and legal expenses if the $220-million project is held up, being fined under bylaws that make it an offence to obstruct vehicles or pedestrians on any street or sidewalk, and being arrested for mischief, intimidation or other offences under the Criminal Code.

Police officials could not be reached for comment.

It says the city can seek court orders against any attempt to obstruct access to the construction site and can ask to have violators jailed or fined for breaching such orders. It also says any damage award can be enforced by seizing and selling the defendant's property. It's not clear if council authorized the notice or if city bureaucrats gave the OK.

"I was floored to be warned of all the different ways the city can get us, that the city might sue for more than the total value of the contract and if you don't pay would take your property," said McLean. "I think it's very heavy handed. We've been treated as enemies and I think it will make people angry."

Cohen said the e-mail "strikes me as a bit of an intimidation tactic and I resent that. I don't take kindly to receiving a lawyer's letter from the city to which I pay taxes when I haven't done anything wrong."

Thursday, July 31, 2003


(This letter was sent by the city's legal department to several individuals involved in protecting Red Hill Valley July 31, 2003
Re Red Hill Valley Project


The City of Hamilton is committed to completing the Red Hill Valley Project. The Expressway is already 60% completed and further work is now progressing at two sites. As you may be aware, work on the Greenhill Avenue Bridge Phase will begin on August 5, 2003.
We are writing to you in light of public statements which indicate that some people intend to obstruct or prevent continued construction of the Red Hill Valley Project, particularly construction in the vicinity of Greenhill Avenue. We understand you may be one of those persons or that you may know such persons. In the latter case we ask for your assistance in passing this letter on to those who may intend to participate in such obstruction.
The City respects the right of individuals to communicate their views regarding matters which they may find objectionable, provided their means and manner of doing so are not unlawful.
We are therefore writing to convey to you the costs to the city taxpayers that will be created by unlawful disruption of construction as well as the distinction between lawful protest and unlawful behaviour, and its potential consequences. We also want to inform you that the City will seek damages and other appropriate legal remedies from those responsible for the City incurring damages and costs arising from unlawful behaviour.

Greenhill Avenue Construction Site Closed to Public as of 7 a.m. Tuesday August 5, 2003

As of 7 a.m. Tuesday August 5 it will be unlawful for members of the public to be within the area comprising the Greenhill Avenue construction project. As you will see from Notices to be erected around this Greenhill site, the area indicated on the Notice will remain closed until June 30, 2004. A copy of that Notice is enclosed for your guidance. The area is being closed to protect the public from construction dangers and to protect workers from dangers created by the public being present in a construction area. Closure of construction sites to the public is required by provincial law.

Costs to the City From Delay of Greenhill Project

The Greenhill work will be undertaken by a private contractor and its subcontractors pursuant to a contract with the City. The work includes erection of a noise wall along the extension of Greenhill Avenue, the construction of pavement on the extended portion of Greenhill Avenue, and the construction of a bridge over the north-south expressway. The work is costed at approximately $3.4 million and the contract requires timely completion. If the contractor is delayed by events beyond its control, such as protestors occupying or obstructing access to the site, there will be a significant additional cost for City taxpayers.
The City is entitled under common law to compensation from those persons causing the City damage through unlawful action as well as to a separate or additional civil remedy by way of an injunction to prevent such harm from occurring or continuing. These common law duties and remedies, and other laws concerning project disruption, are discussed below.

Law Regarding Persons Disrupting Construction


Those who engage in illegal behaviour resulting in delay or disruption of construction can be sued for damages to compensate the City and its contractors and subcontractors, which damages will escalate on a daily basis. Also, as the Greenhill contract has a value of approximately $3.4 million and it is one of 15 related phases of construction, the ultimate cost of delay to the City arising from delay of the Greenhill component will be substantially more than the cost of delay from that one component. Such additional costs will be included in any civil damages claim.
In addition to paying damages, a court normally awards court costs against a party who is successfully sued. Court costs include some or all of the amount of money spent by the successful party on legal fees and disbursements in pursuing the civil action.
A civil court judgement awarding damages and costs may be enforced against a person owning property by the judgement being registered against title with the consequence that if the judgement is not paid the property can be ordered sold to pay the judgement.
Some of the common law causes of action providing a basis for the City obtaining a damages award due to obstruction of construction through a civil action are:
  • Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations and Economic Interests
    It is a tort and therefore unlawful under common law for a person to intend to injure another by interfering with their business and cause economic loss. Protestors who intend to obstruct or are wilfully blind to the consequences of their actions or inactions will be liable for damages under this tort. It is accepted that the tort of interference with economic relationships may be committed even if there is no actual breach of contract but merely an untimely conclusion of economic relations.>
  • Inducing Breach of Contract
    This tort is proven when a defendant is shown to know of the contract and its terms, intends to procure a breach of the contract, and engages in conduct by which the defendant directly persuades or induces a third party to breach a contract, thereby causing the contract to be broken and causing the plaintiff damage. We understand many protestors are quite aware of the contract between the City and its contractor on the Greenhill project, as Friends of the Valley purchased a copy of the contract. In any event, by this letter we are providing you with information that the City and its contractor will suffer damage if someone induces others to stop or block construction work with the result that contract work on the Greenhill project is interrupted or delayed.
  • Illegal Conspiracy to Injure
    The tort of illegal conspiracy to injure is established by there being an agreement by two or more persons to do an unlawful act or to effect an unlawful purpose, or to do a lawful act by unlawful means, either of which causes the plaintiff to suffer damage.
  • Tort of Intimidation
    This tort consists of intimidation of the plaintiff or intimidation of other persons to the injury of the plaintiff. Thus, if those who illegally occupy or obstruct a construction site intimidate the contractor's employees to leave a City worksite, the contractor can sue, but so too can the City for the damages and delays caused to it.
  • Trespass - Common Law Liability
    Another common law cause of action is trespass. Persons entering or remaining on City property following notice that an area is closed for construction will be liable at common law for the tort of trespass, with the same consequences for paying damages to the City and its contractors.


An injunction is a court order prohibiting a person from engaging in unlawful conduct. Where an injunction is issued, e.g. prohibiting obstruction of a construction site or access to it, the Sheriff is directed to enforce it (with the assistance of Police where the Sheriff believes there may be a breach of the peace). Breach of an injunction is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code for which an alleged offender can be arrested and prosecuted. Breach of an injunction can also result in civil contempt of court proceedings by the party who obtained the injunction. Where civil contempt proceedings are taken, the punishment for the person in contempt is normally a substantial fine or jail term, in addition to liability for court costs

TRESPASSING - Arrest and Prosecutions

Trespass to Property Act; City of Hamilton By-Law 01-219 as amended.
As indicated above and in the Notice being provided with this letter, the Greenhill Construction area is closed to the public between August 5, 2003 and June 30, for reasons of safety of the public, the contractors, and as required by provincial law. Any person found within the closed area is a trespasser.
Under the Ontario Trespass to Property Act, a police officer, the occupier of premises, or a person authorized by the occupier may arrest without warrant any person believed on reasonable and probable grounds to be trespassing. Where a person is arrested, they are turned over to the Police. Maximum fines under this Act are $2,000 per offence. In addition, a person convicted may be required to pay for the reasonable costs of the prosecution.
Under City of Hamilton By-Law 01-219 as amended by By-Law 03-209, (which governs City- owned open space and parks) persons entering any area closed for construction may also be prosecuted under the By-law and, if found guilty, fined. The area of the Greenhill Avenue construction as shown on the Notice enclosed is closed to the public under this By-law for the period indicated above. The By-law also provides that those persons who refuse to leave a closed area are subject to the provisions of the Trespass to Property Act.


City of Hamilton By-Laws
  • S. 43 of City of Hamilton Bylaw 01-215 makes it an offence for any person to walk or stand together with one or more persons in such a manner as to impede pedestrians or vehicular traffic.
  • S. 12.2 of City of Hamilton By-Law 86-77 as amended makes it an offence for any person to congregate and sit or stand so as to obstruct the free passage of either pedestrian or vehicular traffic on any streets or sidewalks.
  • Persons breaching these bylaws are subject to prosecution and upon conviction, to be fined. Moreover, the City is entitled to obtain an injunction for breach of its bylaws.


  • S. 430 of the Criminal Code states that every one commits mischief who wilfully ".obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property." Persons charged with mischief in relation to property of a value less than $5000 may be prosecuted by indictment and are liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or may be prosecuted by way of summary conviction.
  • The Ontario Court of Appeal has determined that a person may be guilty of mischief if he or she forms part of a group which constitutes a human barricade or other obstruction. The Court of Appeal also noted that the fact that the accused stood shoulder to shoulder with other picketers without saying anything or committing further acts may constitute an act of obstruction:
    It may not be very difficult to infer that a person standing shoulder to shoulder with other persons in a group so as to block a roadway knows that his act will probably cause the obstruction and is reckless if he does not attempt to extricate himself from the group.The same conclusion could be drawn where a person is part of a group which was walking around in a circle blocking the roadway. Those who are standing on the fringe of the group blocking the roadway may similarly be principals if they are preventing the group blocking the roadway from being bypassed.


S. 432 of the Criminal Code creates the offence of Intimidation, and specifically provides as follows
  • 423. (1) Every one is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, wrongfully and without lawful authority, for the purpose of compelling another person to abstain from doing anything that he or she has a lawful right to do, or to do anything that he or she has a lawful right to abstain from doing.
    (f) besets or watches the place where that person.carries on business.; or
    (g) blocks or obstructs a highway.
    One Ontario case which used this section involved civil disobedience. The accused was a well-respected engineer who organized and conducted a blockade on a highway to protest a railway labour matter. The court made the following comments:
    Now the blunt fact is that what Mr. Krause did was to embark upon a form of civil protest. Mr. Krause deliberately and methodically embarked upon a breach of the law. . Those who embark upon civil disobedience however worthy their motives may be must be prepared to pay the price. They must recognize that the law will run its course.
  • Conclusion

    The City of Hamilton is committed to completing the Red Hill Creek Expressway. It intends to undertake this work with the utmost concern for the health and safety of all - the public, demonstrators and workers. The City will minimize disruption to the residential and business neighbourhood around the Greenhill phase and other phases of the Red Hill Valley Project. It will manage City responsibilities with the utmost diligence in regard to environmental protection and compliance with all applicable laws, and to contain the cost to taxpayers which may arise from disruption and delay. We hope that the information set out in this letter assists you and others who made read it in understanding the nature of lawful and unlawful protest and the potential consequences of unlawful interference or obstruction of construction. We invite you to discuss these matters with your own lawyer, if you have not already done so. During the period in which Greenhill construction site illustrated on the enclosed Notice is closed to the public, entry or occupation by the public is unlawful. However, the City is committed to the right of individuals to peacefully protest in a manner and place that does not interfere with lawful City activities. To this end the City is prepared to make available City-owned lands where protest can be carried on which will not cause interference with construction or problems for neighbours or traffic on streets. We understand that the Acting Director of the Red Hill Valley Project has already provided information on this to some objectors. We invite you to contact us if you require further information. We encourage your continued contact with Chris Murray, the Acting Director of the Red Hill Valley Project. Yours truly, Elaine Holt Acting City Solicitor and Corporate Counsel Attachments: 1. Notice of Closure Greenhill Avenue Construction Project; 2. Map Illustrating Area Closed.


    Ewan MacColl Every time you pick up a newspaper Every time you switch on the T.V. You can bet your old boots that at some point you'll see Some high ranking copper or Tory MP Calling on all who are British and free To stand up and defend law and order. It's illegal to rip off the payroll It's illegal to hold up a train But it's legal to rip off a million or two That comes from the labour that other folk do, To plunder the many on behalf of the few Is a thing that is perfectly legal. It's illegal to kill off a landlord Or to trespass upon his estate But to charge a high rent for a slum is OK - To condemn two adults and three children to stay In a hovel that's rotten with damp and decay Is a thing that is perfectly legal. If you're job turns you into a zombie It's legal to feel some despair But don't be aggressive, that is if you're smart, And for Christ's sake don't upset the old apple cart - Remember the boss has your interest at heart And it grieves him to see you unhappy. If you fashion a bomb in the kitchen You're guilty of breaking the law, But bloody great nuclear plant is OK, Though plutonium processing hastens the day When this tight little Isle may be blasted away - Nonetheless it is perfectly legal. It's illegal if you are a gypsy To camp by the side of the road But it's proper and right for the rich and the great To live in a mansion and own an estate That was got from the people by pillage and rape - That's what they call a tradition. It's illegal to carve up your missus, Or put poison in your old man's tea, But poison the rivers, the seas and the skies, And poison the mind of the nation with lies- If it's done in the interest of free enterprise - Then it's proper and perfectly legal. It's legal to join a trade union And to picket is one of your rights, But don't be offensive when scabs cross the line, Be nice to the coppers and keep this in mind: To picket effectively, that is a crime Worse than if you had murdered your mother. It's legal to sing on the telly But they make bloody sure that you don't If you sing about racists and fascists and creeps And thieves in high places who live off the weak And those who are selling us right up the creek, The twisters, the takers, the con men, the fakers, The whole bloody gang of exploiters. ________________

Wednesday, July 30, 2003



WHEN: 11:00 a.m., Thursday, July 31, 2003
WHERE: 690 Dorval Drive, Suite 200, Oakville, On.
A flying squirrel, a tree, and possibly other creatures or plants from Hamilton's Red Hill Valley will journey to Oakville on Thursday as part the struggle to keep the Valley, the jewel of Hamilton's east end, free of an expressway.
The ShowStoppers will be delivering a letter to Dufferin Construction Company, the company recently awarded the contract to construct a ramp to the expressway-to-be at Greenhill Ave., on the eastern side of the Red Hill Valley.
Flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans), designated a "species of special concern" by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSWIC), will only cause greater concern if they have to negotiate a four-lane expressway in the valley. At least 41,000 trees are to be levelled in the building of the $220 million expressway. Some of those trees will be bulldozed to construct the ramp at Greenhill Ave.
Construction of the Greenhill Ramp could start as early as August 5.
The ShowStoppers have vowed to use every peaceful means to stop the Red Hill Expressway, including, well, dressing up like squirrels! They have held camp-outs at the site, as well as non-violent civil disobedience workshops.
Please join the ShowStoppers as we go to Dufferin Construction's Oakville HQ and present our letter and a tree-seedling in the hope that Dufferin General Manager Lloyd Ferguson (brother of Hamilton Councillor Murray Ferguson ) will join us in planting, not paving the valley.

Monday, July 28, 2003


Protesters train to stop Red Hill

Hamilton Spectator, Monday, July 28, 2003

Red Hill Expressway opponents have begun training to block bulldozers for construction they believe may begin as early as Aug. 5.

Protesters from several environmental organizations have formed Showstoppers to mount what they call a non-violent defence of the valley.

The group met Saturday at McMaster University to co-ordinate rallies, street dances, symbolic plantings and civil disobedience.

Andrew Loucks, one of the group's organizers, said they took their name from a comment from Councillor Larry Di Ianni who recently said the road would be built unless there was some kind of showstopper.

Showstoppers brought in Matthew Behrens, a Toronto activist with a group called Homes Not Bombs, to provide advice on civil disobedience.

"We do everything from what your legal rights are as protesters to how to maintain non-violent discipline, looking at how to protect your body in a confrontational situation, how to make it impossible for opponents to use violence," he said.

He said the protesters are committed to principles of nonviolence, no use of drugs or alcohol, making decisions by consensus and being open to everyone, including opponents.

"The group is giving a sense of wholeness to those who wish to act in defence of the valley," Loucks said.

Saturday, July 26, 2003



A civil disobedience workshop takes place 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 26,
McMaster University Student Centre room 319
Hamilton Ontario
As the city of Hamilton prepares to push forward with plans to begin construction of the controversial and hugely expensive Red Hill Creek Expressway, citizens are preparing to mount a non-violent defense of the valley.
This full day workshop will enable citizens to prepare for the many tasks necessary to protect the industrial east-end's only major greenspace, including risking arrest and jail.
The afternoon features a workshop on nonviolent civil disobedience with one of North America's foremost practitioners, Matthew Behrens of Toronto Action for Social Change.
Construction of the Greenhill extension and an expressway on-ramp are scheduled to begin as early as Tuesday, August 5, and Valley-lovers intend to be there to prevent the paving of this green space. Dufferin Construction has the contract to begin the work which will lead to the destruction of the valley.
A group of citizens calling themselves "The Showstoppers" have already held a weekend camp-out at the site, and received support from the neighbours whose homes are threatened by the paving of the valley.

Sunday, July 6, 2003


A peaceful camp out in the valley took place from 5:00 p.m. Friday, July 4 until 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 6, 2003.
There was a free family pot luck lunch and music concert on Saturday, July 5.
LOCATION: The camp out took place at the site of proposed construction at Red Hill Valley at the western end of Greenhill Road (take Mount Albion, south of King Street East; turn West on Albright, park diagonally at head of trail near ELizabeth Bagshaw School.


PERFORMERS (2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Saturday, July 5):
Tim McCarroll-Butler
Steve Fuller
Rex Barger

Plus: speeches from Don McLean (Friends of Red Hill Valley), and Hamilton Mayoral Candidate David Christopherson.

Reports at the Hamilton Indymedia site are, sadly, no longer available

Saturday, July 5, 2003

Ramping Up for Red Hill Valley



As the city of Hamilton pushes ahead with plans to pave the valley (likely beginning with tree cutting the first week of August 2003, with Dufferin Construction doing the work), citizens are organizing to save the valley.
A peaceful camp out in the valley begins today (Friday, July 4) from 5:00 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 6, 2003.
There will be a free family pot luck lunch and music concert on Saturday, July 5 with the pot luck at 12 noon, and music from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: The camp out will take place at the Red Hill Valley at the western end of Greenhill Road (take Mount Albion, south of King Street East; turn West on Albright, park diagonally at head of trail near ELizabeth Bagshaw School.


Scheduled PERFORMERS (2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Saturday, July 5):
Tim McCarroll-Butler
Steve Sinnicks
Pauline Kajiura
Rex Barger
Steve Fuller
and the breakdance crew STYLORDZ
Plus: speeches from Don McLean (Friends of Red Hill Valley), executives of the Red Hill Neighbourhood Association, anti-expressway politicians and candidates. There will also be a children's games component (including face-painting) and guided walks in the valley. The events take place at the site of the protest camp, all are welcome!

Friday, July 4, 2003

Basis of Unity

Basis of Unity for Protests at Red Hill Valley
Agreed upon by campers Friday, July 4, 2003

  1. Our attitude will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect towards all people we encounter.
  2. We will use no violence, verbal or physical, toward any person.
  3. We will not damage any property.
  4. We will not bring or use any drugs or alcohol other than for medical purposes.
  5. We will carry no weapons.
  6. We will make decisions by consensus
all demonstrators, etc. are asked to abide to these decisions. This is not meant as judgement of others, but a basis of unity and accountability at Red Hill Valley protests.

Friday, May 9, 2003


Friday May 9, 2003, from 3:00 to -6:15 pm, a public gathering took place at WESCAM to mourn the loss of life made possible by the manufacture of military products and sales (Wescam is located 649 North Service Road, Burlington ON, just east of King Road).[news originally posted at Hamilton IMC  are no longer available due to issues beyond our control]

VIDEO of this action can be found thanks to the Dundas Independent Video Association (DIVA) here.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Human Rights to the Court

Wescam protesters acquitted

Three men arrested for trespassing following an anti-war demonstration in December at Wescam were acquitted last week following a one-day trial in Burlington court. 

Andrew Loucks, David Jefferess and Matthew Behrens were part of a 25-person protest Dec.10, 2002 at the local high-tech company located at 649 North Service Rd. 

Loucks said the group was there to request a meeting with Wescam officials to discuss the belief the company's technology might contribute to what was then an impending war in Iraq. 

Following a brief protest the men were arrested by Halton police and charged with trespassing. 

They were acquitted last week before Justice of the Peace Barry Quinn. 

Loucks, who is from Hamilton, said the trio is happy with the acquittal and plans to continue protesting. 

"We're definitely going to continue, people have been continuing in Burlington," he said. "There are a couple of folks who are there pretty much every night just raising the issue to folks who happen to drive by."

Jefferess is also from Hamilton, while Behrens lives in Toronto. 

Wescam - one of the city's best-known companies - designs and manufactures high-tech camera equipment. 

Bruce Latimer, Wescam's vice-president of corporate development said the company accepts the court's decision. 

"I think Mr. Justice Quinn provided a well-reasoned decision based on the evidence that was placed before him," he said. 

In response to the protest in December, Latimer told the Post details about the company, its products and clients are available online at and noted while the company produces high-tech camera equipment for military uses, it also makes cameras for other purposes. 

"We run the full gamut from sporting search and rescue operations," he said. Latimer also noted Wescam has a long history of service in the Golden Horseshoe area. 

"We have been a proud member of the Hamilton/Burlington community for 25 years," he said. 

"The tragic events of Sept. 11 have highlighted what we do but it hasn't changed the business."

By Robb Swybrous, Burlington Post Staff.

Thursday, April 24, 2003


"Wescam Three" Acquitted

Anti-War Protesters Cleared of Trespass Charges but Sternly Lectured on the Pre-Eminence of Private Property by Restaurateur turned Justice of the Peace These people [military manufacturer Wescam] run a business. I don't know what it is and I don't care what it is." - Burlington Crown Attorney Tom Davies
April 24, Burlington, ON - Following a strange day in court, three people charged with trespassing at a peace demonstration last year were acquitted of the charges in Halton Provincial Court today.
Andrew Loucks and David Jefferess of Hamilton and Matthew Behrens of Toronto had been part of a group of 20 people who gathered at the site of Burlington, Ontario military manufacturer Wescam last December 10, 2002, International Human Rights Day, to seek a meeting with the head of the company. They were charged with trespassing.
But the road to acquittal was a rocky one, as an air of acrimony greeted them upon their arrival in court.
Perhaps it was the fact that the justice of the peace, the Harris government appointee Barry Quinn, was concerned about his brother's bleak employment prospects (we were told his brother Pat is the likely-to-be-dismissed head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, booted from the hockey playoffs in the first round just two days earlier.)
Or maybe it was just a case of general malaise because when it comes to holding military manufacturers accountable to the community and international law, concepts like openness, transparency, and democracy take a back seat to the market "opportunities" offered up in the slaughter of Afghani or Iraqi citizens. Especially when those market opportunities are developed and manufactured from behind the safe fortress of private property which courts value so highly.
For Wescam, Sept. 11, 2001 and the subsequent escalation of war and repression have been a boon, with the expectation that billions will flow into their coffers to provide military equipment to a broad range of human rights violators (the U.S., Egypt, Colombia) as well as surveillance and control technology to those who would shut down borders to refugees and those who would repress political demonstrations.
Wescam is well known for the targetting system of the Predator, the unmanned aerial vehicle which was called one of the "superstars" of the recent atrocities committed against the Iraqi people, the Cobra attack helicopter, and the C-130 (the last used to especially deadly effect in Afghanistan), among many others.