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Finn Road protester sued for farm blockade

Ray Galawan has been leading a protest of a Finn Road farm which has been receiving fill for a new road. - Matthew Hoekstra file photo
Ray Galawan has been leading a protest of a Finn Road farm which has been receiving fill for a new road.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra file photo

The man behind an eight-day blockade and continuing demonstration at a South Richmond farm is now being sued for damages.

Bill Jones of Bill Jones Horticulture Inc., the leaseholder of 9360 Finn Rd., filed a statement of claim in small claims court Wednesday against Ray Galawan, a retired farmer who initiated the protest.

“They have caused pretty serious damage, and we just want them to go away,” said Jones of the protesters.

According to the civil claim notice, Jones is seeking $15,000 in damages “for economic loss due to the illegal blockade” of his farm, and $10,000 “for loss of reputation and disparagement due to the defamatory statements” made against him.

The maximum award in small claims court is $25,000.

The blockade began Jan. 16 as an attempt to halt a project to build a farm road using broken concrete and asphalt. It ended Jan. 24 when police told protesters to move, but a roadside demonstration has continued.

Protesters see the farm road as unnecessary fill occupying food growing soil. Jones, however, has said he intends to put the land to good use by starting a tree nursery—a permitted use of agricultural land.

In the court document, Jones claims the blockade caused him “substantial economic damage and loss” due to costs he incurred for his road construction contractor and soils engineer.

Jones also alleges Galawan “engaged in defamatory conduct by uttering and publishing false allegations and malicious lies” about him and his farm operation.

Reached by phone yesterday, Galawan said he was served with the notice of claim but hasn’t looked at it yet. He added he was “a bit shocked” to learn of the legal action.

“They’re trying to get under my skin and create conflict, and of course for three weeks it hasn’t worked so I guess they’re trying this system.”

Meanwhile FarmWatch B.C. is organizing a “letter-writing party” and potluck Friday night outside the Finn Road farm to urge politicians to act.

“We need help from the provincial government to stop the use of construction waste on this farm, and to force the (commission) to uphold its law that concrete and asphalt not be allowed on farmland,” said Galawan in the group’s Wednesday news release.

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