Native land feuds hurt economy

Mayor Marie Trainer says disputes could cost Haldimand County about $40 million this year

Maurice Cacho
The Hamilton Spectator
(Sep 15, 2007)

If native land disputes drag on until the end of the year, Haldimand County's economy will take a hit of about $40 million this year, its mayor says.

Stalled development projects throughout the region are causing people to cut back on spending, said Mayor Marie Trainer.

"It doesn't just hurt the person that bought the property, it's all the tradespeople that go along with it," she said , adding that those families have to make ends meet without a paycheque.

Land disputes have already put a $20 million dent in the county's economy as developments grind to a halt, she added.

"Lots of them have just stepped back. There's more (disputes) that are happening and they (developers) are just not bothering or they'll put it on hold."

To date, protesters have, at least temporarily, stopped a Wal-Mart in Dunnville, the York Estates development in York, the Hagersville Seniors' development and this past week Caledonia's Stirling South development, where a homebuilder was seriously injured Thursday.

Developers in Brantford, Cainsville and Mount Pleasant have also received visits from natives claiming the projects are being built on Six Nations land.

There's also the Douglas Creek Estates development dispute. The province bought the Caledonia site from the developers last year for $16 million.

Negotiations continue between Six Nations, Queen's Park and Ottawa to try to resolve the 19-month-long native occupation.

Further up the Grand River in Cambridge, Mayor Doug Craig is preparing for similar problems.

"Mike (Hancock, Mayor of Brantford) warned us that it's coming our way, and he's quite correct, we know that," said Craig.