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Splatsin First Nation counter-sues Armstrong resident over land dispute

Band sues Gary Roberts, asserting he is illegally using reserve land to access his property
Splatsin First Nation has counter-sued Armstrong resident Gary Roberts over a land dispute that hinges on whether Roberts is allowed to use a road they say is on reserve land to access his property. Splatsin released a statement about its lawsuit on May 5, 2023. (Splatsin photo)

Splatsin has counter-sued an Armstrong man who sued the First Nation over a land dispute centred on access to his property.

In 2019, Gary Roberts filed a lawsuit against Splatsin, claiming the band was illegally blocking him from accessing his property. Roberts’ property is a 166-acre parcel of land on Armstrong Haywood Road in Spallumcheen. Roberts sought an injunction on the basis that the access road to his property is owned by the provincial Crown and that there is a statutory right-of-way over it that provides him with access to his property.

Splatsin maintained that the access road was on band land, was not a public road and it was within their rights to prevent the use of it.

According to a B.C. Supreme Court judgement by Justice Gary Weatherill, Roberts said the band was “bullying him, stalling and using intimidation tactics.”

At one point Splatsin barricaded access to the road using large concrete blocks, only for Roberts to remove them with a loader. This resulted in a “confrontation” between the two parties. A week later, Splatsin placed improved concrete blocks on the access road. “The lines were, at that point, drawn in the sand,” the judgement states.

Justice Weatherill ultimately dismissed Roberts’ 2019 application and agreed with Splatsin that Roberts was not permitted to use the access road.

However, the legal battle has continued on, with Roberts again taking Splatsin to court recently.

In a statement released by Splatsin, the band says Roberts continues to assert that he has the right to use the road to access his property.

“Splatsin’s Chief and Council will be taking immediate steps to resolve this dispute in the coming days,” the May 5 statement reads.

Now, hoping to come to a resolution of the land dispute, Splatsin has counter-sued Roberts, asserting that he is trespassing on the reserve.

“Splatsin continues to pursue this claim and hopes that it will soon have a decision from the courts regarding this ongoing matter,” the statement reads.

READ MORE: Splatsin prepping Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail for construction

READ MORE: Splatsin members blockade band buildings, demand new election

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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