Judge Sides with Squamish Nation in RV Park Dispute
Click here to see a gallery of photos of the RV park described in the following story.
A group of former RV park owners who were kicked out by the Squamish Nation band council after they stopped paying rent to the band have been told by a British Columbia Supreme Court judge they have no right to the land where the park operates.
Six member of the Baker family — including one woman who is also a band councillor — went to court recently to challenge the ownership of the land in West Vancouver after the band council told the family it could no longer operate the trailer park without either an agreement or paying rent, the North Shore News reported.
Members of the Baker family said the land was theirs because it was granted to them in a verbal contract by former chief Joe Capilano prior to the amalgamation of several tribes under the Squamish Nation.
But Justice Frits Verhoeven ruled there's no evidence the land belongs to anyone but the band as a whole.
He also ordered the Bakers to pay the Squamish Nation about $500,000 owed in rent from May of last year.
Members of the Baker family operated the Capilano RV Park for 50 years. But when the last 10-year agreement ran out in 2008, and the band asked the owners to sign a final five-year lease, the family refused. The band has indicated it intends to eventually develop the land.
In May of last year, the owners of the RV park stopped paying rent, so the band filed a lawsuit against the Bakers claiming $500,000 in unpaid rent and asking the court to declare the land as rightfully theirs.
Verhoeven has now done that, saying the Baker family — who were not represented by a lawyer — has not raised any legitimate defense.
In making the decision, the judge noted previous leases signed by the RV park owners had been with the Squamish Nation as owners of the land and that nobody had taken issue with that before.
Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation said the band council hasn't yet determined whether it will run the RV park itself or enter into a lease with new business owners.