PARIS – On Friday morning in the chambers of the County of Brant, Mayor Ron Eddy read a draft resolution on behalf of the County reflecting their stance on the ongoing land transfer talks between his council, and that of Brantford and Six Nations.
While indicating that they are still willing to finalize boundary discussions by June 30th, they have not moved from their previous position regarding the quantity of land requested by the city or the terms of that transfer.
The proposed resolution put forward includes a guarantee of meaningful consultation and accommodation with the Six Nations elected council. Until recently, Brantford considered talks that would include Six Nations to be unnecessary. However, pressure by the County to include them as stakeholders rather than as merely observers has caused the City to reconsider its stance and include Six Nations.
When asked if the HDI would be a part of these discussions, Mayor Eddy said no. “As an elected council we have to deal with their elected council.”
“It is important to recognize that a boundary change does not change the underlying private ownership of property,” the Brant discussion paper goes on to say. “A municipal boundary amendment changes the jurisdiction of the area from one municipal government to another; the annexing municipality would become responsible for provision of municipal services to the area.”
According to a needs analysis submitted by the City of Brantford, 25,000 new residential units will be required by 2041, with 1,000 Hectares required to accommodate these numbers. They also project that 18,000 new jobs would be required in that same timeframe. Another 1,500 Hectares are projected to be required over that same time.
County consultants have gone over these projections and this study shows Brantford’s need to be somewhat less. They see 487 Hectares needed to accommodate the additional residential Units and 412.5 Hectares to accommodate projected job creation for a total of 900 Hectares.
There would also be lands situated between Brantford and Mount Pleasant included in the proposed transfer.
Regarding Six Nations, the position paper states, “… the County conferred with Six Nations after the 2013 after the OLA was completed. During this consultation process, Six Nations noted significant concerns with the lack of consideration for Six Nations’ historic land rights and economic interests, and for a lack of meaningful consultation during the development of the LOI. Given this, the County is committed to engage Six Nations directly during and following the development of the discussion paper, and accordingly has engaged Six Nations regarding the technical aspects of a potential boundary change.”
“Based on this dialogue, the County should require the City to appropriately and adequately consult and accommodate Six Nations prior (to) executing any agreement between the City and the County to authorize a change to the City / County boundary.”
Although invited to Friday’s announcement, Six Nations elected Chief Ava Hill was unable to attend.
Mayor Eddy says he is concerned over the number of passionate calls and emails he has received from Brant citizens saying they want no land at all to leave the County’s jurisdiction. He also spoke of concerns voiced for the protection of valuable farmlands.
Fears from Brant citizens that the transfer would negatively affect their taxes was handled with a proposal that would “grandfather” existing rates for those already affected while increasing rates comers.
Eddy expected that the Ontario Municipal Board would be asked in to mediate a settlement between the two municipalities but he is not afraid of that taking place.
“We feel that our numbers are sound and that they would stand up to scrutiny,” said Eddy. “What we are offering will help the city bring prosperity to the region, but also will encourage them to intensify inwardly.”
Later that day, Brantford Mayor Chris Friel stated he was disappointed in the county’s resolution saying, “The wording in the resolution voted on by the County of Brant council this morning appears to be a final position without the opportunity for further discussion.”
“It’s impossible for us to accept that this is final. This is too important to our community.
“The longer we wait to get back to the table to negotiate, the more it is costing both municipalities. Without this agreement we stand to lose 18,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in investment.
“We need to get back to the table as neighbours and work toward our shared vision of a partnership for prosperity.”
Eddy recalled an old saying his father passed on to him when he was a child which he applied to the situation.
“My father used to say, ‘ Half a loaf is better than no loaf,’ but the city seems to want a double loaf,” he said of Brantford’s insistence.