Local Environmentalist Group Wins Supreme Court of Canada Case

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Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of Canada threw out a damages claim for millions from local developers against a local group of environmentalists.

The Pointes Protection Association (PPA) – mainly made up of residents living on Pointe Louise Drive – are opposed to the proposed development of the Pointe Estates subdivision. That development project was first approved by the Sault Ste Marie Region Conservation Authority in 2012. It was a controversial decision which came after some heated debate – only to be rejected by the city council. The developers unsuccessfully appealed that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board.

What followed the OMB appeal was a lawsuit by 1704604 Ontario Limited against the PPA for $6 million in damages. The PPA contended that the lawsuit was only meant to intimidate residents from speaking out on the matter, adding the company’s legal action amounted to a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” otherwise known as a “SLAPP.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court cited laws in Ontario that stop so-called SLAPPs from going to trial, adding they are not about genuine legal claims. The case marks the first time the Supreme Court has dealt with Ontario’s SLAPP laws.