Motion filed to protect unrepresented landowners from title claim
24 August 2023
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is acting to protect families, homeowners, businesses and others who own property within the Wolastoqey title claim area, which covers over 60 per cent of the province.
Premier Blaine Higgs said the government is taking proactive steps to see that this unprecedented title claim can be resolved as soon as possible. In a notice of motion filed today in the Court of King’s Bench, the provincial government is asking the court to amend the Wolastoqey claim to exclude more than 250,000 properties owned by individuals who are not parties to the claim and are unrepresented in the proceedings. Those owners should not be exposed to any risk should the claim in its current form succeed.
“It is the responsibility of any premier and any government to protect the people of the province,” said Higgs upon the government’s filing of the motion. “Today, across more than half of our province, hundreds of thousands of New Brunswickers are at risk of having their property impacted by this unprecedented claim in which they have been denied any standing or representation. The plaintiffs have dismissed the fears of these New Brunswickers, which is why our government is taking this action to ensure the plaintiff’s legal claim reflects their statements.”
Higgs said that any public statements by the Wolastoqey that their claim will not affect private landowners is not adequately reflected in the legal documents they filed with the court. If successful, the Wolastoqey would have the right to exclusive use and occupation of all lands in their claim, he said.
Under the current form of the Wolastoqey claim, the provincial governement, the federal government, NB Power and 25 private property owners are named as defendants. The motion filed by the province will not affect the status of any of the defendants named in the title claim.
Instead, the motion asks the court to release more than 250,000 parcels of property and their unnamed owners, who have had no opportunity to defend their interests from the Wolastoqey claim. The governement’s motion is only focused on protecting the unnamed owners and in no way limits any claims to damages against the provincial or federal governements that may be Crown responsibility, if proven. The province is currently preparing a defence against the overall Wolastoqey claim, which has yet to be tested in court.