By Tyson Leonard
QUINTE WEST – It’s nearly minus-25C and the snowbanks are three feet high, but Margarat Collins-Clapp is getting ready to spend another day camped out on the Meyers farm.
“We’re equipped. We’re Canadian – we can handle though cold,” Collins-Clapp, who is from nearby Demorestville, said Tuesday morning.
The expropriation of Frank Meyers’s farm has been a contentious issue for the community, and has recently attracted the attention of concerned citizens and media from across the country.
The Department of National Defence has been buying up farmland in the area with plans to build a new training facility for the military’s special-forces unit Joint Task Force 2. Meyers signed his land over to DND in November, but has since claimed he only signed the papers under duress. As it stands, the military owns the land, but has not said when it plans to begin demolishing the farm buildings.
Since protesters’ occupation of the farm – a bid to prevent demolition – started on Jan. 11, Collins-Clapp said, there has always been someone at the site. On Tuesday Collins-Clapp was there with Frank Meyers and one other protester.
The group has a recreational vehicle lent by a supporter and a trailer with hydro to help keep warm.
Collins-Clapp said the battle against the expropriation has mainly been fought online through social media, but it’s still important to have people on the ground.
“It’s a physical statement, saying we’re here for Frank. As long as Frank wants us here we will be here for him. Our main objective is to make sure those barns don’t come down.”
On Monday New Democratic MP Paul Dewar lent his support to the fight against the expropriation. In a letter to Minister of National Defence Ron Nicholson, Dewar says, “I ask the government, and you in particular as minister responsible, to reconsider the decision to take possession of Mr. Meyers’s land.”
Collins-Clapp said she’s happy to see politicians speaking up about the issue.
“That’s exactly what we’re waiting for. We’re waiting for some recognition; we’re waiting for some type of political figure to back us up.”
As for how long the protesters plan to occupy the Meyers farm, Collins-Clapp said they’ve all decided to stay indefinitely.