Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
10:42 PM EDT
2014-07-04 at 15:54

'Currently trespassing'

Fort William First Nation chief Georjann Morriseau.
tbnewsatch.com file photo
Fort William First Nation chief Georjann Morriseau.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau says CN is trespassing on reserve property.

But she might be willing to forgive and forget if the railway agrees to reopen the James Street Swing Bridge, which has been closed to vehicular traffic since last October.

“CN is currently trespassing on at least two road allowances that were exempted from the original appropriation in 1906,” Morriseau said in a release issued late Friday afternoon.

The original agreement was signed between the city of Fort William and the Grand Trunk Railway, whose lines were taken over by CN last century.

Morriseau said a survey indicating the locations of the road allowances was provided to CN which identifies FWFN reserve land, adding CN does not have proper authority to cross them.

“Although the 1906 order in council speaks to the railway having the right to lay tracks across the lands excepted from the grant, it is our opinion that no compensation was ever provided to this right and give that the lands are still reserve lands today, CN requires an Indian Act S. 28(2) permit or an S.35 right of way to cross our First Nation. CN has neither," Morriseau said.

Morisseau said the reserve might be willing to talk if CN upholds what she feels are its legal obligations to the original agreement and reopens the bridge.

CN, FWFN and the city met on Thursday, both making proposals for a solution. They are expected to meet again on Monday.

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maltopian says:
Supercitizens once again spoiling things with amateur planning and big mouths.
7/7/2014 5:53:09 PM
Tannoy says:
Here's an idea, use the highway... There are lots of communities that have only one entrance like that, they get by just fine. If you cannot navigate that turn safely then there is something very wrong with your ability to operate a motor vehicle. Lucky for you there's a bus.
7/7/2014 11:53:34 AM
Tunsterdude says:
I like to applaud Chief Morriseau and the Ft William FN for being so understanding in the dragging out of this matter, the trespassing card is well played and I hope it gets CN moving, someone said why play this card now? It may have not been known about, and research into any possible solution to this problem may have uncovered this information, I think the C&C are going about this incident in a very respectful matter and I hope it is resolved soon, not only for the FIrst Nation, but for the citizens of Thunder Bay who use the bridge also.
7/7/2014 11:30:35 AM
unionbay880 says:
The contract is between the city and Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Too bad Grand Trunk Pacific Railway went bankrupt in 1919 causing all its contracts to become null and void loosing all binding power and validity. CP Rail purchased the assets of GTPR not their contracts or debits. CP Rail has been given "implied consent" to use the property for many years, they are no longer trespassing. Look up the laws regarding trespassing and implied consent.
7/7/2014 11:07:48 AM
codvx87 says:
So they want CN to build a bridge... So they give them an ultimatum like this?

If I was CN I would see every dime I put into rebuilding this in jeopardy, whos to say they wont pull this card once the bridge is built? They've provided an unstable variable, Georjann is a complete fool.
7/6/2014 12:17:36 PM
tiredofit says:
Not once has the city nor FWFN requested they build a new bridge. They want this one fixed and it's the responsibility of the owner to repair it based on a binding legal contract.

I would suggest the fool is you, you have no concept of what's going on, have you personally been involved in the negotiations? If so, please enlighten us all.

Georjann is a very smart woman and I would guess she just doesn't randomly think and say things such as this.
7/7/2014 8:56:15 AM
anvil of crom says:
its a last ditch effort.
I am sure this has been thought over , it could have been done immediately but why ? first collaboration and consultation is the proper order of these things.
BUT After all this time , the delays what has changed?
In my opinion CN finally said NO we are not fixing the bridge.
I am sure Chief Morriseau has pressure on her from businesses to do something after all this fruitless talk.
So this happens, and yes its get to the media! Its an issue in the publics interest.
The bridge is old, is a relic but replacing it is NOT going to happen.
7/6/2014 11:01:24 AM
The Beaver..... says:
I would suggest that the chief of FWFN over time has build up a very cordial relationship with the people of Thunder Bay and had become someone to like and respect.
I would also suggest that she has ruined that admiration and respect by only one FOOLISH STATEMENT.
7/6/2014 8:56:36 AM
mystified says:
CN does not want anyones death or injury on their hands. Their engineers deemed the road way portion unsafe for vehicular traffic. They are the ones that are liable if someone gets injured or killed if the bridge failed.
As loch said above any blockade or rail traffic slowdown effects the men and women who work at the industries serviced by CN. See how popular FWFN will be if it comes to that.
7/6/2014 12:42:33 AM
OilSandsMan says:
Most bridges have a lifespan of 50 to 75 years. Some bridges engineered now have 100 year lifespans. The James Street bridge has exceeded its life span for vehicular traffic. It is beyond repair due to its design. I'm a Certified Inspector of Steel Structures. I would never put my stamp of approval on this bridge. Nor would any credible structural Engineer I know. This bridge is done for vehicles due to its design and the fire that caused this damage. People who advocate fixing it simply don't have any idea about bridge engineering, construction or design. Look at alternate solutions. Repair is not an option ! Chief Morriseau has ZERO experience with structural engineering. The dynamic and cyclic loading factors due to high volume of traffic will cause fatigue fracture. I guarantee it !
7/5/2014 9:36:12 PM
fairlane says:
OiSands, your reasoning appears sound. But, could you explain how "Dynamic & cyclic loading factors" don't apply to rail traffic which is currently allowed?

I'm guessing it applies to both cars and rail which means it should be closed immediately and permanently.
7/7/2014 8:55:02 AM
opinions2014 says:
i amazed at what people had to say on facebook on this same article...some people do not think with intelligence before they say anything, they speak from hate and have a bad case of verbal diarrhea. a majority of people were the from embarrassing cult of Thunder Bay
7/5/2014 8:57:01 PM
comments unavailable says:
You would see the same here or worse but the comment police just doesn't allow them.
7/6/2014 6:10:58 PM
jonthunder says:
If the city or other governments invest in the bridge - it exposes them to liability going forward; never mind what they may be liable for if they issued authorizations and there is now a suit for trespassing or anything else; very slippery slopes.
7/5/2014 2:09:46 PM
jonthunder says:
If the First Nation pursues a claim for trespassing the claim would actually against those who authorized taking up of those lands or trespassing - Canada? Ontario? Thunder Bay? The railway would be guilty of nothing; and the First Nation may be making a case against the authorizing parties which could include the city. The Railway may appreciate the First Nation taking such action.
7/5/2014 12:10:12 PM
Xquisiteroughpatch says:
Nothing like bringing up mistakes in a contract that is 100+ years old. It's trespassing now that they want/need something, but it wasn't trespassing otherwise? If CN does fix the bridge, is this 'trespassing' still going to be an issue? Or will it be forgotten until the next time CN is needed? I'm genuinely curious as to how this would work out.

And let's say that Thunder Bay, FWFN, and CN go through this whole debacle, and fix the bridge - then what? What if the bridge is damaged again? Are we really going to go through all of this a second time?

Lastly, will we ever find out how the fire was started? I remember CN saying a few articles ago that they couldn't comment, but does that mean they can't ever comment?

7/5/2014 10:24:06 AM
looch says:
Maybe the barricade will get CN's attention, but hurt the industries on the other side of the bridge, with lay offs or shut downs. These are the workers that help support the FWFN businesses now.
7/5/2014 10:19:14 AM
n00n says:
The discussion of 'trespassing' should have been held in private between lawyers, CN, and the FWFN. Going to the media with this accusation is not only childish, it's unprofessional.

If you want to be taken seriously and change the views of the general public about the FWFN, act with professionalism. If CN doesn't do the same, then take them to court.
7/5/2014 9:42:56 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
If I were CN I'd pull the tracks and leave the bridge in the state it is in so nobody can cross it. As for the business that rely on rail they will have some issues but I'm sure they will have to use more trucks to ship stuff. That means more traffic on the reserve. Thought she didn't want that? Anyway, if those companies decide to pack it in, the Reserve loses as well. They MUST be getting paid to use that land for business. So who is the winner here?
7/5/2014 8:40:51 AM
Mastermind says:
Do we not forget that CN was a "victim" of arson. They just didn't close the bridge out of spite. This is how we treat victims in this society? Has the FWFN not benefited from the tracks going over to that area (taxes, jobs, service spin offs) for all these years. Go ahead and bite the hand that feeds you. CN can simply walk away and say "the bridge is yours--good luck".
7/5/2014 8:28:30 AM
mcse1999 says:
Threatening CN with trespassing? It should prove interesting to see who wins this one. I would put my money on CN as the winner with Chief Morriseau and all the industries at the Mission who depend on CN as the casualties.
7/5/2014 12:00:43 AM
sinkoreswim says:
Interesting! Maybe its time to put some concrete barriers across the tracks
7/4/2014 11:30:42 PM
newshound says:
Wow, playing that card could hurt the reserve all together. What if CN says fine, we just won't cross the bridge, now the reserve has nothing to deal with. The only one suffering then would be the grain elevator that CN provides rail cars too. Hopefully this gets resolved, would hate to see CN say they are closing down the bridge completely. No one wins then!
7/4/2014 11:05:51 PM
Stephen says:
Oh, now you are just being silly. It's just a stupid little bridge. Build another one, like we did when the CPR closed the Jackknife!
There was a little bit of chit-chat about that, but not so much. We ended up with a much safer bridge.
7/4/2014 9:27:09 PM
Ed itw says:
If CN calls this bluff they could pull up tracks.
This would effectively close Cargil, Valeycamp and McAshpalt. Not sure of effect on Saw Mill.
The industrial park would no longer be viable.

Compensation has been provided in the form of the bridge.The time to point out possible errors in the agreement was in 1906/7 not 105+ years later.
7/4/2014 9:21:29 PM
Kidknapp says:
Threaten CN and see how far it gets you. They should just pull out and say have a nice day! Temper tantrums from the public won't get you anywhere.
7/4/2014 8:11:19 PM
windigo says:
Out of interest, beside the resolute sawmill, what is over the bridge for CN to service now anyway?
7/4/2014 7:50:30 PM
sickandtired says:
I really admire Chief Morriseau but this smacks of black mail. Wouldn't it be better to continue to work collaboratively to generate solutions than to make these kinds of statements?
7/4/2014 7:09:23 PM
ranma says:
I was wondering how long it would take before the "we don't think we got paid" part was going to come into affect. This is nothing but pure desperation on the part of FWFN. Face it, CN does not want to have this bridge open anymore. It is time you follow PROPER legal channels and sue. Don't put up a roadblock.
7/4/2014 6:26:09 PM
Pick Slimmons says:
This is shameful. Why was there no issue with the 'trespassing' when the bridge was open?
7/4/2014 6:14:09 PM
The Beaver…. says:
this is blackmail of the finest kind
7/4/2014 5:39:12 PM
basicrights says:
Well played Chief Morriseau....well played. That's called not showing your hand until every other player has.
7/4/2014 5:24:06 PM
eventscentre says:
The city of Fort William no longer exists!
7/4/2014 5:14:55 PM
sandstorm says:
neither does Grand Trunk Railroad! this whole thing is just silly
7/5/2014 3:25:30 AM
bobguy says:
Sounds to me like the Chief and Council of FWFN will not be happy until CN pulls all of its business off of the reserve and leaves Resolute and the elevator without service.

I don't know what percentage of the bottom line of CN's finances come from across the river but I don't think that they will notice the loss of revenue. Also, I'm sure that their contracts include a force majeure and not be penalized by the loss of service to the sawmill and elevator if this trespassing order goes through.

Let's all be honest. The bridge is junky, outdated and all around dangerous. Focus should be on improving the hwy 61 access and making that safe.
7/4/2014 5:12:28 PM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
Maybe CN won't reply even if "the reserve might be willing to talk" & drag it thru the court system for many years leaving both empty handed for a while??

The word "trespassing" makes it too much like an empty threat of "if you don't" kinda deal...

Bring out the roadblock next I assume??

Is this the only tactic you guys know or what?

7/4/2014 5:11:19 PM
brandon says:
The fact that these tracks have been there for decades on their property would actually make them a right of way for the railroad. Same as if someone built a shack in the forest on your property that you were aware of but did not dismantle, and it stayed there being used for 20 years (can't remember exact number) with your knowledge.

You can't have it go on for decades and then suddenly say "Hey! Look at that! Look what you did!". You would have had to go through all legal motions to get them removed from the day you became away of the existence of those tracks.

It is now an easement for the railway.
7/4/2014 5:11:10 PM
Dudebro says:
This is a very bad time to pull this kind of card when no one has heard what the details are of the offer and counter offer we're yet.
What's going to happen here, is people are going to formulate some pretty negative opinions of doing business like this, whereas they might not have if they knew CP countered with a pretty crappy offer and would deserve it. Basically, people would side with this way of dealing if CP acted in bad faith again, but to do it before anyone really knows is just asking for bud publicity.
These kind of "you hurt me, so I have to find a way to hurt you" tactics aren't helping the whole racism thing at all.
7/4/2014 5:10:13 PM
racine says:
Congrats to Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau and everyone involved in trying to settle this atrocious lack of safety, reasoning and respect to the FWFN people and all people in the city of Thunder Bay. This link is vital to both communities. If this happened in Southern Ontario, would it take this long to resolve. I think not.
7/4/2014 4:52:40 PM
j_northey says:
As someone born and raised in Southern Ontario and now living here I can tell you that the bridge as it was would've been unacceptable down there and would've been replaced decades ago. It is insane that there isn't a real bridge for vehicle and pedestrian traffic instead of piggybacking on a rail bridge. The city and FWFN should be in talks with the province and feds about getting a real bridge put in, and should've done it years ago. Just getting back to the old status quo is not acceptable in the least except as a very short term solution (ie: less than 5 years, ideally less than 2 years). Lets get on it and put a real bridge there.
7/4/2014 8:37:48 PM
eventscentre says:
You didn't put much thought into your comment....just like a southerner to come up here and tell us how it's done! Did you take economics into account? How much will the taxpayers have to pay? Do you know that there is an alternate route to exit FWFN? It is madness to consider a new bridge, unless FWFN can pay for it themselves
7/5/2014 8:29:38 AM
moonpie says:
j_northey is absolutely correct though. Why is anyone in their right mind fighting for the reopening of a near 100 year old bridge that has been deemed unsafe? You'll think its okay to put some bandaid's on it until it collapses and people lose their lives, then you'll be crying that the bridge should have been replaced a long time ago.
7/5/2014 2:53:48 PM
unknowncronik says:
this town is more interested in an events centre that's not needed, that's why
7/5/2014 2:18:39 PM
crypto says:
As an observer and not someone who is filled in on all of the facts... the timing of this screams desperation given yesterdays meeting between FN, Thunder Bay and CN.

Why did it take this long to play this card? Wouldn't it have been more effective right after the fire closed the bridge?
7/4/2014 4:27:49 PM
enos012 says:
Totally agree! I would've found this out long ago, play that card and set up blockades, if they were 'tresspassing' But than you allow them to 'use' this land for how long but only choose to say something now? Poor Leadership.
7/4/2014 7:03:20 PM
tsb says:
It takes time to research legal documents and make sure that the argument you're making is perfectly valid before going public with it. It's possible that FWFN has known about this for some time and was hoping to not have to take this step to re-open the bridge.
7/4/2014 7:12:20 PM
Curmudgeon says:
@ crypto & enos12: You may well be correct however, only those directly involved know all of the innuendo around the bargaining to date.

I find the Chief to be thoughtful and well-spoken and will trust her judgement. It is a chess game not checkers.

On the other hand, I grew up in Fort Frances and travelled over the Boise bridge back and forth to Int'l Falls for years. So did thousands of residents and non-residents alike for decades.
A privately built bridge with a nominal toll will generate tremendous revenue. Bridge tickets have paid for the Boise bridge many, many times over. Any investors out there?
7/5/2014 2:34:29 AM
fairlane says:
A toll....never thought of that. That's a great idea on many levels!

First of all, playing the trespassing card this late in the game is bad form. If no one has complained in 100 years, then it's a non-issue. CN won't pull out, but if they fix it and charge a toll then they can justify present and future repairs. Plus it will deter travel just for cheap gas.

Plain and simple; pay the toll for the convenience. Otherwise take the long way home. At least people will have a choice.
7/5/2014 3:49:23 PM
tiredofit says:
Perhaps it's taken this long because they were hoping and still are that CN would do what they are obligated to do based on the original agreement. I'm sure this is simply a last ditched effort by FWFN to push them into doing what needs to be done.

Georjann is a smart woman, and a very astute politician, she's looking out for what's in the best interest of her band members.

If this bridge was located in the middle of the city, impacted businesses the way they've been impacted, there would be a hell of a lot more people up in arms.

More power to them!
7/4/2014 7:23:09 PM
Royalflush says:
Not necessariy. Why show all your cards when the other guy hold his close to his chest. Good move Georjann.
7/4/2014 9:57:42 PM
enos012 says:
This isn't a game! I been hearing how much this bridge affects business(where some might have to shut down) and the safety of people lives, incase of emergency! You want to wait to the best possible time to play a trump card?
7/5/2014 10:38:53 AM
unknowncronik says:
Morisseau is gonna drive the FWFN to be the laughing stock of the rest of Ontario! its not gonna fly & shows her true colors
7/5/2014 2:14:26 PM
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