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Developers hamstrung

Housing projects in limbo, they say - But other builders are forging ahead

Jessica Leeder - Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
May 25, 2006. 01:00 PM

[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.]

CALEDONIA—A group of local developers who helped transform this area into a booming bedroom community say they are helpless and their prospects for future developments are frozen until the province bails them out of an ongoing title fight over a prime swath of land.

"Nobody wants to hear about the builders. We have nothing now," said Les Edwards. The owner of Edwards Custom Homes is one of several Caledonia-area builders who have had to stop business since Six Nations Territory protestors inhabited the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision last February.

While both sides came to an uneasy peace this week, arguments over the rightful landowner are far from resolved. Developers involved in the project — which they say would have met area housing needs for the next five years if completed — say their futures have been marred. Some say they won't have any income this year, while others are wondering if they should move their business.

Development on the land, subdivided for more than 600 homes, halted when the native occupation began.

Most of the companies involved — many of whom say they helped lay the foundation for the area's up-and-coming status over the past decade — have so much money tied up in the project they're now hamstrung. They say their stalled status will chill future development in the area, although larger development companies have disputed that argument and are forging ahead with plans for new settlements.

No end to the disagreement is in sight. Native protestors occupying the construction site yesterday threatened to rebuild a barricade they took down Tuesday after using it to sever traffic on the town's main artery for more than a month.

John Kragten, owner of Venture Custom Built Homes, invested in a handful of lots in the subdivision, and those who have begun to develop the land will probably lose their claim to it.

Builders are counting on an eventual deal with the province to recover their costs, but no one is sure when it will come or what form it will take. Meanwhile, Edwards and his counterparts are worried they've been frozen out of the town's burgeoning development.

If they are forced out of the area, there are plenty of big-time developers already positioned to fill the vacuum.

Michael Corrado is an Ancaster-based developer who is forging ahead with five subdivisions in and around Caledonia. He and other new developers say they are undeterred by the land claim blow-up, which so far has not affected housing prices in the area.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday dismissed suggestions that Ottawa had been missing in action in Caledonia.

"Our government has been involved at every stage in consultation with provincial authorities," he told reporters after a speech in London, Ont.

He said the land involved in the dispute was not part of federal land claim negotiations.

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