Backyard break-ins on Braemar Avenue

by Bill Jackson - The Regional

June 10, 2009

Backyards, sheds and garages on Braemar Avenue in Caledonia were broken into last week, once again bringing the lawless land nearby known as Douglas Creek Estates to the forefront of local concerns.

One resident reported that thieves escaped in a vehicle located on the other side of the train tracks, behind homes on the west side of Braemar.

According to the Ontario Provincial Police, there was one report regarding the theft of a dirt bike and ATV from a garage and shed on one property.

"Suspect(s) were observed travelling in a southerly direction onto Douglas Creek Estates," according to an email from Cst. Paula Wright. "The homeowner had heard the ATV leave the property and attempted to follow but was unsuccessful."

Wright could not confirm any other reports, however one local resident claims that OPP told him Six Nations Police were investigating.

The break-ins reportedly happened on Braemar Avenue during the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 2.

Local Coun. Craig Grice confirmed that four properties directly next to his on the west side of Braemar Avenue had backyards and sheds broken into.

"From as far as I can figure from the people I talked to about it, (the thieves) seemed to want to only go after the big boy toys," he said.

"The province needs to recognize that the DCE property is being used as an escape route," he added, "and something has to be done about that."

Bo Chausse, a Kinross Street resident, said that the province is aiding and abetting criminals by not policing the DCE site.

"What's interesting is the police did not once go down to the cul-de-sac there in front of Grice's house to shine their light down there," he said. "They didn't look, they didn't care. They said the Six Nations Police are working on it."

A sign hung last week on a hydro tower on the dilapidated property off Argyle Street South people of a Haudenosaunee Plank Road Toll Road coming in 2011.

"I would say it's intimidation, but it's mostly to make a point and get everybody upset," said Haldimand Mayor, Marie Trainer.

Trainer contacted local MPs as well as provincial and federal officials after concerned residents contacted her at home and at the office last week.

The toll road is in response to the slow pace of land claims negotiations, as Trainer understands.

"They should be in Toronto and in Ottawa closing their streets off in protest," she said. "That's where they'll get their attention. If they put up some tepees on the parliament buildings out on their front lawns and were there everyday as the MPs and MPPs were going into work, or closed off the roads that they all travel to get there, I think that would get their attention instead of being out here hurting their neighbours and disrupting their neighbours."

One group plans to continue with Canadian Flag raising protests on a regular basis in an attempt to get police to enforce the law on DCE.

"If that's a tactic I've got to take, that is the tactic I will continue to take until such time as they enforce the law equally," said Merlyn Kinrade, a Caledonia resident.

Residents wanting to erect Canadian Flags across from Douglas Creek Estates have been repeatedly prevented from doing so by police during similar events in the past.

Four people have been arrested, including Randy Fleming who was charged with obstructing police back on May 24, when he walked onto a road allowance next to Douglas Creek Estates with a Canadian Flag.

According to Kinrade, a protest being planned later this month will start from the south side of the native occupation and will follow the same path Fleming took on the day of his arrest. It won't be a "flag raising" but rather a "flag walk," Kinrade said.

Haldimand's CAO, Don Boyle is concerned that the OPP could pass on flag raising costs to the county, and told Kinrade so.

"Decisions get made for different reasons," Boyle said. "At the end of the day I just don't want to push my luck. I'm happy right now that it's working out from a cost perspective."

The OPP promised that all costs related to DCE would be separate from contracted policing costs with Haldimand.

However, the OPP could determine that the cost of flag raising events are general in nature and fall under theĀ  contract, Boyle said.

"You might end up with 500 people showing up at the protest and 450 of them against it to say 'You know what, settle down.'"