If you build it they will come

Letter to The Regional

By MPP Toby Barrett

April 23, 2008

Skill saws and hammers are what we should be hearing along the Grand River as builders gear up for another season – but in Haldimand, and now Brantford, any field of dreams can quickly come under a cloud.

As people now somewhat ruefully say – 'If you build it, they will come' – taken from the movie Field of Dreams and reincarnated by blog site administratorChick66.

Along the lower Grand, builders know that if they attempt to build it, they will come = 'they' referring to the Haudenosaunee Development Institute or HDI. For the past two years, actions by the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations/HDI and inaction by the McQuinty government have ground development to a halt and scared investors off to parts unknown.

Last week we were told Ontario's negotiatior proposed a two-year moratorium on development for "no go" properties to be selected by Six Nations. During Questions Period last week, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant dodged the implications of this ludicrous proposal by touting ongoing work to find a "solution" to the "satisfaction" of all parties. I describe a protestor-driven moratorium as 'militant greenbeltism'.

The moratorium proposal is not without precedent. Last year government put a freeze on 10 area Ontario Realty Corp. properties including: the Sprucedale Correctional Centre, the agriculture research farm in Simcoe, the Jarvis and Canfield MTO yards, the Cayuga courthouse, Rock Point and Selkirk Provincial Parks, 4,700 acres in South Cayuga, as well as over 500 acres at both the Burtch Correctional Centre and, of course, Douglas Creek Estates.

If indeed these properties are being used as a bargaining chip, the question is, why? What will happen to these lands once the two year freeze is lifted? Until this veil of secrecy on such questions is lifted, locals will continue to speculate and anxiety will mount as the dispute spreads to cities like Brantford where work on a number of projects continues to be stalled by HDI protesters.

In further questioning I called upon the McGuinty government to end negotiation with lawbreakers; however, rather than setting their own course the government continues to fall back on the Ipperwash Report for direction.

Where does this leave builders and developers? It leaves them confused that the very government elected to work for them, continues to negotiate with lawbreakers.

For two months, I have been attempting to draw out the government's stance on HDI fees. Eight questions later, on March 26th, Bryant, referring to builders, stated that "they absolutely, obviously, not pay it." But just one day later, my office received correspondence from a company that said the belated policy of the Ontario Government was of little value to them as they had paid a $7,000 fee last August.

Why? Because the Environment Ministry required they consult with Six Nations on their wind project. Ironically on March 26th, the Minister also said that consultations do not come with a price tag. My question in the House is yet to be answered – "Minister, do you know who is in charge here?"

I then asked the Minister if he would protect builders from repercussions, whether it be blockades or in the sad case of Sam Gaultieri, coming within an inch of losing his life at the end of a piece of oak stair rail.

Once again, the question remains unanswered.