HALDIMAND – A recent ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board brought forward evidence that in fact, ‘silence is golden’, but it would seem the rule applies only to developers and municipalities seizing Onkwehon:we lands.
Caledonia resident Ron Hubert recently appealed the construction of a huge new housing development set for Caledonia’s Northeast which would see 3,500 new homes, nearly doubling the size of Caledonia.
In response, Haldimand and Empire Communities Ltd. appealed the appeal, seeking to have Hubert’s appeal thrown out. He was questioning protocol and established rules and bylaws, which he says the municipality and the developers ignored in giving the go ahead to the project. But he also included the challenge that Six Nations was never properly consulted before the project was approved.
Hubert’s appeal was thrown out of court with the developers given not as much as a slap on the wrist for not following the rules.
Hubert attempted to handle his own case but was clearly out lawyered and appeared unprepared for the hearing of Jan. 15th. All of his reasons for trying to force Haldimand to play by the rules failed.
But when he asked if Six Nations was consulted about the development, the OMB’s reasons for judgment once again revealed how, in their world, silence means go ahead.
The decision delivered by J. V. Zuidema representing the OMB, stated, “the application was circulated in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act. In this respect, both Band Councils of Six Nations and Mississaugas of the New Credit were included in the circulation and provided with copies of all materials and further, were invited into the process.”
At the hearing the OMB was told by Haldimand that they were in full compliance with the Grand River Notification Agreement signed by municipalities along the Grand River in the mid 1990’s. In that agreement, notifying Six Nations of developments along the river was all that was required, leaving Six Nations with no avenue to object should it care to.
This has been long superseded by the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled several times since that notification does not equal consultation and/or accommodation.
The OMB ruling goes on to explain, “No response from either Six Nations Band Council nor Mississaugas of the New Credit Council were received prior to the [passage of project].”
Hubert produced a letter written by Band Council lawyer Lonny Bomberry in which it was clearly stated that the lands in question were included as part of a dispute the Six Nations currently has with both the federal and provincial governments. But the OMB, which pidgin holed Hubert’s appeal to issues unrelated to Six Nations, did not consider this.
“Had Six Nations Band Council had any concerns with the Planning Act decisions of the County, it would have filed an appeal, but did not,” the OMB ruled.
As a non-Native concerned about his government doing wrong by the Native people of Six Nations in particular, it was also ruled that Hubert had no right to question if they were being consulted.
With Hubert’s appeal dealt with, the development project is back on track.