City of Guelph talking to province about bridge over Speed River

GUELPH — The City of Guelph says it has spoken to Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation about a proposed pedestrian bridge over the Speed River — but says the Haudenosaunee Development Institute would only engage in discussions with them after the city made a payment to the HDI.

In a report to Guelph’s city council from August 2022, the details of the engagement with HCCC, SNGR and MCFN were outlined.

SNGR officials met with Guelph in December 2021 to address concerns surrounding archaeology and wildlife habitats in the area. Six Nations also expressed an interest in posting interpretive signage along the footbridge.

MCFN officials met with Guelph about the bridge to discuss having their own monitors present during the second stage of archeological assessments. This discussions were done in October 2021 and January 2022.

But the city says that talks with the HCCC have been inactive since July 2022.

In the report, the City of Guelph says they agreed to submit a development application in April 2022 and offered to meet with HDI to update about the project.

“A meeting was scheduled for May 11, 2022. No specific concerns or issues with the project were shared at that time and HDI further refused to engage with the City unless a payment is received. IT is not part of the City’s existing Indigenous relations framework to provide funding at that stage of the engagement process and HDIs protocols are specific to projects occurring within the Haldimand Tract, which is located outside of Guelph,” says the report.

As a followup, city officials provided HDI a link to a website about the project and offered to meet up again and engage over concerns first on May 27, 2022 and then again on July 4, 2022. The report says no further communications have been received from HDI and no specific concerns about the project have been submitted to the city.

“Given the proposed pedestrian bridge’s location in an urban setting and other site-specific environmental details, the City does not anticipate negative impacts to potential hunting and harvesting rights that may be asserted in relation to the 1701 Nanfan Deed,” says the report.

Now, a community group in Guelph has filed a request with the province, claiming there has not been enough public consultation or indigenous consultations regarding the project.

If that request is granted, it could make Guelph conduct additional consultations with the public, including Indigenous groups.

The bridge was approved by Guelph city council in 2015 and construction was expected to begin in 2024. It is expected to cost between $10-15 million.

If the request for additional consultations is granted it will be the second attempt by a community group in Guelph seeking more time. In 2020 the same group raised concerns about the Endangered Species Act. That request was granted and one of the requirements was that the city enter into consultations with the public and the MCFN, SNGR and HCCC.

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