The Northwest Territories’ government is pressing on with its case against a houseboater who refuses to move his one-storey houseboat from a popular point on the city’s waterfront.
Now, Randy Sibbeston says the government should pay him damages for taking him to court.
The government launched the case last year after Sibbeston refused to comply with a trespass notice that saw two other houseboaters in the same area move away.
Sibbeston, the son of Senator Nick Sibbeston, says the territorial government has no authority over the waters of Yellowknife Bay, and he’s not going anywhere.
In court documents, Sibbeston says he wants $1,000 for each day it takes to resolve the case — that’s how much he says he earns as an artist, something he hasn't been able to pursue because of the court case.
Sibbeston’s houseboat is on a rocky point at the edge of Willow Flats in Yellowknife's Old Town.
Though just a ten-minute walk from downtown Yellowknife, Willow Flats is a peaceful oasis for songbirds and dog walkers.
Dave Kellet used to walk his dogs here every day, except during nesting season.
“I don’t come down much anymore,” Kellet says. “I feel uncomfortable invading someone's space. I know it sounds silly because I have just as much a right to be here as the person who is here, but still, you feel awkward heading into someone's space, whether it's legit or not.”
Kellet is one of about ten people who have complained about the houseboat.
“It's kind of inconsiderate for one person to think their perceived sense of entitlement overrides everybody else's enjoyment of a spot that is a zoned nature preserve and parkland and is for everybody else's use. So now one person thinks they belong there and no one else wants to use it.”
The Rotary Club has been building a boardwalk to the point.
A club official says with the houseboat there, the boardwalk seems like more of a private sidewalk for whoever is living in the houseboat.
Sibbeston says Willow Flats is traditional Métis territory and that, as a Métis man, he has the right to use the area.