OHSWEKEN ON — A community meeting and information session regarding the future construction of a water park on 3rd Line Road was held with Troy Montour, Raymond Montour and owner of the land base Patricia Montour in attendance on Wednesday, October 7.
Ross Johnson, Patricia Montour’s brother explained that the project is “a five year plan or longer.”
“This won’t just happen overnight,” stated Johnson. “There is a lot of preparation involved with this, but see, what we’ve done out of respect to the chief and council is we told them what we’re going to do. The council passed its first and second reading, so it’s good to go.”
“The request was for Troy and his family to have a community meeting,” said Johnson, adding that many projects are carried out without public consultation.
When asked about a non-native entity involved in the development, the Montours stated that their partnership with excavation & land rehabilitation company REXLAR is simply for grade A soil, and that the park will be completely “native owned.”
The family went on to explain that the development is intended to be a recreational space for Six Nations youth, with income generating opportunities possible for the community-at-large.
“I’m concerned with what the park will do for the kids, because that’s what this park is for” said Raymond Montour. “But so many people are against everything, it’s hard,” he said. “We want to make it like the exhibition, where people are selling different things and showing different things, even showing different performances,” he said. “We want to put our stuff in there too; like representing the Mush Hole, memories, right at the gate when people go in there. People could have their own displays, maybe even use it like a flea market if they want to,” he said.
In regards to providing a visual prototype of the park, an estimate as to how many jobs the park will bring to the Six Nations community, and an idea of what the Montour family would like to name the park, Raymond Montour explained that nothing was solid yet.
“Right now we’re concentrating on getting the soil and getting the land ready, once we get that done, then we can do some serious planning,” said Montour. “We’ll start as soon as possible, even in the winter. All I’m saying is it’s going to be a good thing for this reserve, even all of the businesses will make money,” he said, indicating that the surrounding community businesses will profit from the people attracted by the park.
But, when asked about deforestation, habitat destruction, light pollution, added traffic and noise, the answers around the room were vague.
Johnson responded to the influx of questions by implying that the public consultation process can derail progress.
“I just sold 17 acres of land, and I’m buying another 50 acres of land and I’m clear-cutting the bush right off, I [am not] even going to council, because I need it for something else,” he said.
“You know, that’s what we can do. This is what we get out of working with Band Council, exactly what we got right here,” he said, motioning to the meeting. “If we do this on our own, there’s no flack, there’s no questions, it just gets done because we’re doing it with our own money, and we’re developing it for ourselves so we can move on with other projects,” he said.
Johnson further explained that his business RJ Super Market was built for the community and in accordance to his ideas of moving out of the past and developing into the future.
Dakota Brant, a community member attending the meeting, responded to Johnson, saying “we’re not talking about going to the past, but we also can’t keep doing what we want to do because again, we’re not going to have any of this pristine forest left either. I mean, it’s not about doing what we want to do, it’s about working together to figure out ‘okay, what can we do in this community to create a plan that’s going to leave a really good place for our children?’”
Troy Montour then responded by saying that the Men’s Fire “cut down all of the trees at the corner of 69,” and that it went without mention.
“What you’re saying is reinforcing the point I’m trying to make,” Brant said, “everyone keeps doing these things themselves without thought of other people,” further explaining that she hopes her concerns might better prepare the project to have answers in the future.
Each of the questions and concerns were listened to by the Montour family. Although the answers to the questions were not definitive, both Troy and Raymond Montour and Ross Johnson eagerly reiterated that they have the interest of the children within and outside of the Six Nations community in mind by following through with the project.