Traffic is expected to be disrupted in Marpole Friday morning when the Musqueam Indian Band leads a protest march related to an ongoing land dispute.
The band plans to march from the Safeway parking lot at 70th and Granville and walk south to a piece of private property on Southwest Marine Drive, near the Arthur Laing Bridge.
That is the property where intact remains of two adults and two infants believed to be ancestors of the Musqueam were discovered earlier this year during preparation of the site for a 108-unit condominium project. The band wants the remains covered up and the property turned into an interpretive public park.
Friday marks the 100th day of the band’s protest outside the property owned by Gary and Fran Hackett, who are working with Century Group HQ Developments Ltd. to develop the site.
“I would apologize to motorists for the inconvenience but I would ask them to blame the provincial government,” said Cecilia Point, organizer of the protest, which begins at 9:30 a.m.
The concern the Musqueam have with the provincial government is over its refusal to rescind two permits issued to the developer last year to proceed with the project.
In June, the province amended one of the permits to order the developer to stop work in a small section of the property where the remains were found.
The government, however, continues to extend both permits in two-week increments while the developer and Musqueam continue to negotiate a settlement on the land.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations told the Courier in an email the “permits are only being extended in two-week increments because of the ongoing negotiations between the property owner and the Musqueam on purchase price.”
If a deal is not reached, Point said, the band is worried the developer will go ahead with the condominium project. The protest will continue until a deal is reached, Point added.
Bob Ransford, a spokesman for the property owners and developer, said his clients have outlined their costs to the Musqueam and calculated what they believe is a reasonable settlement.
Ransford said they are focused on selling the land and awaiting a financial offer from the band, which was promised to them this week.
“We haven’t heard anything,” he said Wednesday. “I’m surprised they are planning an action [Friday] because I don’t know how that relates to what they told us.”
The band held a similar protest march in May followed by demonstrations outside the Mountain View cemetery and a blockade of the Arthur Laing Bridge for almost three hours.
“The community may decide to block the bridge but that’s not our intent for now,” added Point, noting the Vancouver Police Department was notified.