A long running court battle between the territorial government and a Ndilo man who lost his fight to keep a plot of land will resume in September after a “miscommunication” involving the Department of Lands led to the elder’s vehicles – including ones he wished to keep – being hauled to a crushing site.
In March, Justice Andrew Mahar ordered Alex Beaulieu, an elder who resides in Ndilo, to vacate a piece of property located about 23 kilometres west of Yellowknife along Highway 3.
The site was granted to Beaulieu in 2002 so he could establish what was to be an Elders on the Land initiative in conjunction with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation’s on the condition that he reside at the property.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation passed a motion two years later revoking Beaulieu’s permission to occupy the site, on the grounds that he was not using the site properly or for his primary residence. He was living in Ndilo at the time.
Over the years, the site has become a graveyard of derelict cars. There were 72 of them 2017. The GNWT argued Beaulieu was “essentially operating a junkyard,” leading to the elder losing his fight to keep the land.
In September of last year, pending Mahar’s March decision with respect to the site dispute, the judge put forth an interim order. Beaulieu was to contact counsel of the GNWT within two weeks so he could identity the vehicles he wished to keep, the rest would be crushed. The order also allowed the GNWT to clean the site and remove and dispose of various waste materials and Beaulieu’s unwanted vehicles.
Hayley Fitzgerald, counsel for the GNWT, told the court that Beaulieu identified eight vehicles and two boats he wanted to keep by marking them with red tape. The Lands Department was told to leave the marked items alone.
But during the cleanup in March, Fitzgerald told the court a “miscommunication” occurred between the Lands Department and a contractor, leading workers to remove everything from the site, including Beaulieu’s vehicles.
“Everything’s been lost. My whole life has been lost,” said Beaulieu, according to court transcripts.
“A mistake has been made … and there should be compensation for that mistake,” said Mahar, asking Beaulieu to come up with a reasonable assessment of the value of the property taken from the site that he intended to keep.
Beaulieu, court records show, landed on $2 million in “damages,” a figure Mahar said was unreasonable.
After being told by Mahar to try to come to an agreement of the value of items, both sides met again in court last week. Beaulieu submitted a handwritten list of items he wants to be compensated for, including vehicles, boats and building materials – some come with evaluations as high as $50,000.
According to CBC North, Beaulieu said the GNWT has offered him $3,000 in compensation, and while he didn’t offer his own figure in court, Fitzgerald reportedly said they are “millions” apart on the value of the property.
The matter has been adjourned to Sept. 6, when both parties will make submissions on what kind of compensation Beaulieu should receive from the territorial government.