OHSWEKEN – The weekly general council for the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) brought forth a full discussion from Colleen Davis and Ryan Davis, who are residents living near the construction site of the proposed “water park” on Third Line Road.
The couples presentation overview brought forth concerns of public safety, health implications, environmental impact, and the general business plan for the water park project as for the next 4 years it is planned that over 5,000 loads of soil from local area cities will be dumped on the site.
Colleen Davis recognized that there had been community meetings regarding this site in the past year, but her concerns are relative to the issues that have come up in the present.
“The reason why we brought the issue was because we just wanted an open dialogue and we wanted an update,” said Davis. “We wanted an update on the situation and some background information, because maybe the people that weren’t able to attend the past meetings [want updated information].”
Questions regarding the testing of the soil and the foul smell of the soil were circulated, as it was made clear that many within the community living near the site want access to the test results that judge the purity of the soil.
“It’s affecting so many people, so that’s when it was time to stand up,” she said. “We have our children who are having to put on masks for their safety, and a situation like that should never exist.”
In 2014, the same issue of soil dumping heavily affected rural-area residents living near Toronto, as water and transit projects left behind a lot of dug up earth. Property values were lowered and the use of land nearby the dumping sites became limited for many of the affected residents, and farmers were concerned with the soil leeching contaminants. This was mainly due to the tricky rules around soil testing and the unclear amount of dirt that can be dumped at one site, even though some municipalities have created bylaws regarding private property and land fill.
However, Troy Montour explained that the business plan for this project wasn’t released to the public based on privacy.
“The reason we didn’t give our plan out was because of all of the copycats,” said Montour. “[The park] is completely self-sufficient and paying for itself. We didn’t ask for money from anyone and we’re doing it completely by ourselves.”
But Montour added that the access to the test results of the soil will be made available.
“It sounds like a broken record, we’ve been going over this for what, a year now? Same kind of meeting, every meeting is the same,” he said, as the community meetings that were held in the past for this project didn’t have high attendance.
Yet another issue came to surface during the meeting as residents living near the site recalled their encounters with the reckless driving of the truckers that have been trucking the loads of soil. This issue was brought to the attention of council by Councilllor Sherri-Lyn Hill-Pierce after complaints from several Six Nations residents explained that they wanted the trucking to stop.
Wendy Johnson, a resident on Third Line explained that when it comes someone making a livelihood and building the economy on Six Nations – she’s supportive.
“But when it becomes a safety concern then it’s an issue,” said Johnson. “When trucks drive down the middle of the road – at you – and they don’t move over. When you have kids who are home from university, my daughter going to school and saying ‘I almost got hit by one of the transports today,’ and this is a regular thing.”
“The reason why I voiced my concern to Sherri-Lyn is because I went down the road at 8:15 a.m., in the morning on Third Line, and I couldn’t get through Third Line because of the trucks lined up to dump,” she said.
Johnson explained that the trucks weren’t just dump trucks, but full transport trucks. She also explained that she had to go around the concession to finish her errands, and came back on Tuscarora Road to find it being backed up half-way through the concession. All of the cars waiting to pass through couldn’t due to the hills and bends as well as not being able to see past the trucks. She also noted the speeding of the truck drivers.
“I passed those trucks on Fourth Line and they are flying, there’s no speed limit to them,” she said.
Johnson was backed by several community members in attendance that have similar experiences, with some bringing up that they’ve seen the truckers with their cell phones in hand while driving. However, the regulation of the trucks and the drivers is in the hands of the companies that hire and train the drivers.
A man seated near Montour introduced himself as “Amarante,” who explained that he works for one of the companies that truck the soil onto the property.
“I would like to apologize for all of the inconvenience the trucks have made,” said Amarante. “Unfortunately we noticed last week that all of this was going on, and we are taking steps to fix the situation.”
“I completely understand where you guys are coming from,” he said. “We have a plan where you guys won’t see 50 trucks at once. We have a plan where the trucks will be parking outside of the reserve, and we will send in five trucks at a time.”
Amarante also explained that if the police give him any complaints for a certain driver, the driver will be removed immediately.
Several of the councillors including Bob Johnson, Mark Hill and Audrey Powless voiced their own concerns in accordance to the issues brought forth. But, it was decided that the issues in entirety would have to be dealt with by the council as a whole in the near future to find level resolutions.