Mount Carleton snowmobile fight heads to court

The Maliseet Grand Council is taking its fight against a proposed snowmobile hub and trail expansion at Mount Carleton Provincial Park to court.

Maliseet Grand Council has filed for a judicial review against a snowmobile hub and trail expansion

In July, the government announced it would build a snowmobile fueling station and expand trails in Mount Carleton Provincial Park. (CBC)

The Maliseet Grand Council is taking its fight against a proposed snowmobile hub and trail expansion at Mount Carleton Provincial Park to court.

The council filed for a judicial review on Tuesday to try to stop the province's plan to build fueling station for snowmobiles and open up 343 kilometres of trails.

"We're asking the court to respect that territory and put all stop to the development there because we hold that land sacred," said Ron Tremblay, the incoming Grand Chief for the Maliseet Grand Council.

"Personally, I want to educate the province on the proper way to consult our people before moving forward and most of all to respect the peace and friendship treaties," said Tremblay.

The former manager of the park, Jean-Louis Deveau, is also listed as an applicant in the judicial review.

The council and Deveau argue the province's announcement in July to build the snowmobile hub and expand trails violates provincial law and First Nations' rights.

Tremblay says he hopes to sit down with the Heritage Minister before the scheduled court date in December and come to a resolution.

The Heritage Minister, Bill Fraser, says he's not aware of a request for judicial review.

"I have had an opportunity to meet with Chiefs on this matter. If the Maliseet Grand Council has indeed filed for a judicial review then this matter would be before the courts and I am unable to make further comment at this time," Fraser said.

Last month, the Heritage Minister said the department is taking steps to further consult with First Nations and address their concerns.

'Keep this a sacred place'

The application for judicial review says the lack of a resource management plan violates the Parks Act. 

Fraser told CBC Radio's Information Morning Fredericton that it will take some time before a plan is developed for the park and other provincial parks.

The court filing also states the province's plan doesn't protect the park's ecosystem and biodiversity. It argues the government's regulations stipulate an environmental assessment should have been carried out, which never happened.

The application asks the court to quash the province's development at Mount Carleton park and set all work permits aside until the duty to consult and accommodate First Nations has been satisfied, and a resource management plan and assessment have been completed.

"We want to set precedent that any future proposed development, the government will stop and consult with us," Tremblay said.

"We just hate to see it being used as a tourist attraction, using machines and polluting the area more. 

"We really strongly want to keep this a sacred place," Tremblay said.

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