Talks with Six Nations to address development issues

Bill Jackson - The Regional

March 11, 2009

Haldimand Council agreed to enter into talks with the province and Haudenosaunee Six Nations representatives following a closed session last Friday.

Coun. Craig Grice said that he voted against going in-camera but did not divulge what was discussed.

The renewed need for discussion with Six Nations was prompted by recent land protests at a Hagersville development site, he said. The objective is for both sides to find progress while land claim issues are dealt with separately by the federal government.

Councillors Grice, Lorne Boyko and Buck Sloat have been appointed to represent the county at future talks which will include members of the Six Nations Confederacy Council and Six Nations elected council.

"We're going in with an open mind," stated Boyko following a council meeting on Monday.

Boyko was unsure if discussions were suggested by the province and agreed to by Six Nations or requested by Six Nations and floated by the province.

If an idea to freeze all development is tabled, discussion probably won't last too long, he said.

"It might end up being nothing," Grice said. Governance issues on Six Nations have posed a big problem in the past, he conceded.

"It's a clear blackboard for new ideas."

According to a monthly development report presented at last week's council in committee meeting, the total value of new construction last January was less than $1 million, revealing a steady decline over the last three years compared to $3.5 million in January of 2007. The number of building permits issued was down to 17 from 33 in 2007.

Haldimand continues to struggle due to illegal occupations, Sloat said.

The annual impact of the Douglas Creek Estates issue alone is estimated at $355,000 according to Haldimand's 2009 draft operating budget document.