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Lawsuit of the week: Teal Cedar Products sues protesters who allegedly blocked access to Island logging sites

Forest company claims its operations have been hindered by "increasingly extreme" tactics
Rob Kruyt/BIV files

Forestry firm Teal Cedar Products Ltd. is suing a group of participants in ongoing blockades of its logging activities on Vancouver Island, firing back at a swath of small claims lawsuits filed against the company by protestors between June and October 2021.

Teal Cedar filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on December 20, naming Alfred Dennis, Josie Dobbswall, Jared Lim, Tyson Goodyear, Emma Ross, Estelle Honeywell, Corey Henderson, Aaron Boutin, Thea Gilchrist and Emily Twomey as defendants. The company filed the lawsuit as a counterclaim to several provincial court actions filed by the defendants, who have allegedly participated in a “highly-organized campaign of illegal blockades, carried out by hundreds of largely unknown persons, many of whom operate under the name the Rainforest Flying Squad.”

“The Blockaders have raised over $1 million in donations to support their civil disobedience campaign,” the claim states.

Since August 2020, the company claims, its logging and tree planting activities have been hindered by blockades at several sites, including the highly publicized protests at Fairy Creek where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began enforcing a court injunction between May and September 2021.

“But during this same period, the Blockaders’ tactics became increasingly extreme,” the claim states. “Their illegal activities escalated and tensions rose.”

Teal Cedar claims protesters have suspended themselves over roadways and under bridges, while others have occupied tree-sits suspended high over the ground to hinder police efforts to allow logging and road-building work to continue. According to the lawsuit, the RCMP has made nearly 1,200 arrests for injunction violations, obstruction, mischief, and assault. The company claims its equipment has been stolen and vandalized, while interference with its helicopter landing pads have posed “grave safety risks.” 

“Teal Cedar has been able to access areas behind blockades only because the RCMP have conducted large-scale enforcement operations to remove the Blockaders from their entrenched positions,” the claim states.

The defendants, the company claims, have violated a court injunction by impeding access to a logging site by parking their vehicles “in and around” the area known as Tree Farm License 46.

“By aiding the Blockaders and, in particular, by parking vehicles in a way that impeded access to TFL 46 the defendants have aided the violation of the injunction and the continuation of the blockades, which have and continue to cause damage and loss to Teal Cedar,” the claim states.

The company seeks unspecified damages for unlawful and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations, conspiracy, trespass, nuisance, and civil contempt. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the defendants had not filed responses to the claim by press time.