City of Cambridge refused to consult with Six Nations on Broccolini project

After a stubborn start with the city of Cambridge refusing to engage with Six Nations, the Broccolini Old Mill project is now moving forward with consultations between Six Nations, the city and developers offering $250,000 in compensation to Six Nations.

The one million square foot warehouse project sits on land covered by the Haldimand Tract and Nanfan Treaty and will house online retail giant Amazon.

Six Nations is also being offered a ten-to-one tree replacement and protection of a nearby wetland as part of the accommodation package.

Six Nations Consultation and Accommodation Process (CAP) team held a virtual engagement session on Monday saying that the city had originally refused to meet with, or accommodate, Six Nations, and had gone as far as applying for a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO).

An MZO is meant for emergency situations, according to the provincial definition, and it overrides local planning authorities to approve developments without expert analysis, public input or any chance of appeal.

“The cap team historically doesn’t like MZOs,” said Six Nations’ CAP team supervisor Peter Graham. “Consultation on MZOs have been terrible.”

He said Six Nations tried to arrange a meeting with the city and Cambridge had argued that municipalities have no requirement to consult on MZOs and refused to meet with Six Nations.

The province issued the MZO in August 2021.

“Cambridge continued to drag their heels. They wouldn’t make key documents available.”

Former Chief Mark Hill urged the city in November 2021 to meet with Six Nations.

Eventually, said Graham, the minister of housing threatened to revoke the MZO if Cambridge refused to consult with local First Nations.

Finally, Graham said, it was Broccolini that made the first move and decided to consult with Six Nations.

“At the end of the day, Broccolini did come to the table and we have a pretty good agreement. Consultation has been successful.”

In the meantime, he said Cambridge has become “a lot more pleasant and agreeable to deal with.”

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