Civil Dispute Lands RV Park Operators in Jail
Five operators from the Capilano RV Park in West Vancouver, British Columbia, were arrested Wednesday morning (Jan. 26) after police, armed with a court order, swooped in to remove them from the property, the North Shore News reported.
The Squamish Indian Band obtained the order Jan. 14 to enforce an injunction they filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court in December against the six operators of the park: Darlene Baker, Dennis Baker, Franklin Baker, Wade Baker, Wayne Baker and Pamela Pack.
The band claims the defendants, all members of the Baker family that has operated the RV and manufactured home parks since 1966, have refused to negotiate a new five-year lease for both operations and stopped paying rent in May. The Squamish Nation owns the land and is seeking about $500,000 in unpaid rent for the property. They also plan to take over operations of the park.
West Vancouver police spokesman Jag Johal said all six will face charges, but were all released with conditions pending charges.
"They were read the conditions within the court order injunction and they refused to leave the premises," he said.
A court-ordered receiver, D. Manning & Associates Inc., has taken over management of the park indefinitely, according to court documents filed on Jan. 14.
Squamish chief Gibby Jacob said the dispute began when the last 10-year lease ran out in 2008, at which point council said they would agree to a final five-year lease. After that, council planned for the band to take over operation of the park.
Jacob said after some discussions the family refused to negotiate for a new lease and stopped paying rent for the land entirely in May of last year. The rent, valued at about $50,000 each month, is needed to pay for programs run by the band, he said.
"You're given an option, and the option is if you cross the line you will get arrested. They chose to cross," he said. "It was not our desire to be doing what we're doing, but we have a legal duty to our membership to ensure that we are getting the funds that we get in — and every dollar we get gets budgeted."
He said no tenants will be removed from the site and that any employees who aren't among the former operators will be allowed to keep their jobs.
A number of reserve residents huddled near the site early Wednesday morning to watch the commotion, including supporters of the Baker family.
Donald Mathias Joe described how he watched police escort the previous operators out of the property and into waiting police cars. He didn't agree with band council using West Vancouver police to solve the dispute, he said, and he argued the action will discourage people from starting up businesses on the reserve, arguing the band council needs to be more business-friendly.
"If you want to be an entrepreneur on this reserve, you can't open a business because the (Squamish) Nation will seize it," he said, adding he doesn't believe the profits from the park will benefit most residents.
"They aren't looking out for the whole nation as a whole," he said of band council. "It's only a little group that benefits."
The former operators have not filed a statement of defence with the British Columbia Supreme Court.