An Open Letter to Regional Chair Gary Carr, Mayor Rick Goldring, and Burlington City Council

Burlington, Ont. – June 13, 2014

On behalf of the residents of rural north Burlington, the members of the Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition and I would like to congratulate you on your enormous victory at the Ontario Court of Appeal. Thank you and City Staff for all your work and leadership on this precedent-setting case.

Because of your commitment to protect our rural north and its protected countryside, the City of Burlington now stands as an example to other Ontario communities dealing with airpark fill operations.

The summary nature of the Appeal Court’s dismissal was, for our community, both gladdening and concerning.

Gladdening because the City was so clearly vindicated and can now proceed to test and control fill quality on Airpark property through its Site Alteration bylaw, protecting our lands and water table from environmental damage. Concerning because it affirmed our beliefs that the Burlington Airpark and its legal team are unreasonably litigious.

Our community continues to be under serious threat from the Burlington Airpark, this time through the use of Ontario’s onerous defamation laws against local advocates. Their counsel, Brian Rogers, a leading libel lawyer and member of the Attorney General’s Anti-SLAPP Advisory Panel, intends to defend them on the basis this lawsuit is no more than a SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation). In short, it is another legal action, without merit, brought to intimidate, silence and exhaust – both emotionally and financially – its opponents.

Burlington’s strong and vocal advocates and citizen groups play a critical role in protecting our environment, social justice and quality of life. The ‘libel chill’ that could result from the Airpark’s SLAPP suit, and the damage it could cause the targeted defendants put that critical public engagement in jeopardy.

So, while we are elated with the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal today, and grateful for the City’s commitment to environmental protection, we need your support now more than ever. We need to defend public engagement and public advocacy – the cornerstones of our democratic system – from the Burlington Airpark’s SLAPP suit, so that this type of legal coercion does not silence the citizens of Burlington.

Regards, Vanessa Warren

Contacts:

– 30 –

Monte Dennis
Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coalition Co-Chair and SLAPP-suit defendant (905) 315-9388

Vanessa Warren SLAPP suit defendant 905-334-6750

Ken Woodruff
Rural Burlington Greenbelt Coaltion Co-Chair (905) 572-3505

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