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Caledonia land dispute is spilling over

In the region: Conflict is stalling building projects along Grand River in Waterloo Region

James Rusk
Globe & Mail
May 5, 2006

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

The aboriginal land claim that triggered the occupation of a building site in Caledonia is casting a shadow over development in a broad swath of land running through one of the most economically dynamic parts of Canada.

If the issues in the Caledonia dispute are not resolved, officials believe that building projects up and down the Grand River could draw further protests or occupations.

In the Kitchener-Waterloo area, plans to build new bridges over the Grand have stalled until a resolution of Six Nations claims involving the Haldimand Grant, a strip of land that follows the river's course.

Ken Seiling, the chair of Waterloo Region, said it has been trying to keep the issue low-key in the hopes of a deal with the Six Nations about a bridge it wants to put across the river, as it extends a regional road to complete a link between Highway 8 and Waterloo Regional Airport.

"Both we and the province are separately looking at doing some river crossing and bridges. So we have been in discussions with Six Nations on that issue, just trying to sort out where things are at," Mr. Seiling said in an interview.

"This is the growth area of Canada," he added. "This needs to be resolved so we can plan accordingly."

Similarly, the province has been consulting with Six Nations since last summer concerning a bridge it wants to build near Bridgeport as part of a project to rebuild Highway 7 between Guelph and Kitchener, and hopes to reach a settlement soon, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Bob Nichols.

A failure to resolve the issues at Caledonia could affect development in a 20-kilometre-wide strip along the Grand River from Dundalk to Dunnville -- the Haldimand Grant made to the Six Nations people who moved to Canada at the end of the American Revolution.

Protesters have occupied the housing development since the end of February. But tensions erupted when Ontario Provincial Police officers moved to arrest activists in mid-April. Protesters responded by setting up barricades. Last week, former Ontario premier David Peterson agreed to join the team of provincial negotiators working to resolve the dispute.

One source who has attended the talks between the Six Nations and governments said the public and municipal leaders kept in the dark about the negotiations "don't realize where this is going."

He said many of the native leaders are worried development pressure is accelerating around the Six Nations reserve, as growth from Hamilton leapfrogs the greenbelt around the GTA and elsewhere along the Grand River.

He said native groups not only want to be compensated for what they see as maladministration of funds received for the past sale of lands in the Haldimand Grant, but also want a flow of revenue from -- and a say in -- future development in the disputed area.

If Ottawa and the province agree to these demands, he said, developers could find themselves paying a charge that would end up in Six Nations coffers. Or, if the issues are not resolved, projects along the river could trigger further protests, he said.

Brant County Mayor Ron Eddy said that if the native groups were offered a stream of money from future development, "it would be very serious, depending on how it is financed.

"I think it would stop some development in some areas, because developers have to pay the full cost of all the services now. In Brant County, we have front-end loading, because they have to pay all the development charges ahead of time," Mr. Eddy said.

"I would think that, if the provincial or federal governments are going to impose it, they had better bear the cost of it. That would be my response."

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