Island Corridor Foundation seeks dismissal of lawsuit

NANAIMO – After Snaw-Naw-As First Nation filed a civil suit in December, the Island Corridor Foundation has responded.

The Island Corridor Foundation is seeking to have a Snaw-Naw-As First Nation civil lawsuit thrown out of court.

In late-December, Snaw-Naw-As First Nation filed the suit against the foundation and the Attorney General of Canada seeking the return of traditional land taken in the 20th century and used to build the railway, part of which runs through the reserve north of Nanaimo.

In situations like this, once the land is no longer used or needed for railway purposes, it should be returned to the Canadian government for use by Snaw-Naw-As, said Robert Janes, the First Nation’s legal counsel, in January.

In its Feb. 26 filing, the foundation said it is against all of the relief sought in the civil claim and is seeking dismissal with costs.

The foundation claims the lands continue to be used for railway operations, railway works and railway purposes.

There is still regular activity on the rail line, the foundation said, citing trains running between north Nanaimo and the harbour as an example.

Southern Railway of Vancouver Island and the foundation continue to partake in maintenance of the lands by clearing shrubs, bushes and garbage, said the claim. The foundation said it consults with First Nations, including Snaw-Naw-As, on maintenance where it is appropriate.

Snaw-Naw-As continues to be a member of the foundation, the claim said.

Bill McKay, foundation board chairman and Nanaimo mayor, said the board is waiting to hear the Canadian government’s response. The foundation is awaiting federal government sign off of $7.5 million in funding for track repairs.

“We’re just waiting to find out whether or not the [attorney general] has responded and we would hope to get some answers back from them, because of course, we believe that this may very well have put a red flag on the funding file,” said McKay.

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