Ontario dragged into Native Burger Stand case

BRANTFORD – The burgers and smokes are still being served up at the Plank Road, One Stop Smoke Shop on Highway #6, near Caledonia.

Derek Sandy was in Brantford’s Superior Court Thursday, Oct. 3rd, to face charges filed against he and his partner Nolan Hill related to their smoke shop and burger stand located on the old plank road just outside of Caledonia near the Highway #6 bypass.

Judge Harrison Arrell was on the bench to hear the case, which goes much deeper than the burger stand or the smoke shop. The real issue regards title to the land the businesses are operating on.

Under pressure from a group of Haldimand citizens, Haldimand County sought an injunction that would see both buildings removed. The burger stand had become the target of the Haldimand Health Unit who was refused admittance to the property after they posted a “closure notice” due to alleged health and safety violations.

The other part of the complaint concerned the operation of the smoke shack.

It did not go as hoped for those who forced the issue into court.

Defense lawyer Katherine Hensel argued that the two issues are separate and should be seen as such, which Arrell agreed with.

“With Respects to the injunction that is being sought by the Haldimand Medical Health Office, it has been put off because Mr. Hill and Mr. Sandy don’t agree that the Haldimand Medical Health Office has jurisdiction,” said Hensel in recapping the case. “But they are concerned about health and safety themselves and they are working with a doctor and the HDI to improve health and safety of the burger stand. Therefore the judge ruled that the court does not need to resolve it at this time. It will come up again a little further down the road and hopefully by then the court will not need to resolve it if the issues can be resolved out of court.”

But regarding the bigger issue of the land, Judge Arrell asked the Crown where the province was in all of this. He said that since the land is actually owned by the province and not Haldimand County, Haldimand had no right to order Sandy off and ordered Ontario to the court instead.

“The court ordered that the province is to be added to the question of whether Sandy and Hill are operating their smoke shop and the food outlet on Haldimand land,” explained Hensel.

“It is the Crown that has the duty to consult,” she said. “The Province claims that they own the land while the Haudenosaunee claim they own the land, So that is between the Haudenosaunee and the Province and not the County of Haldimand. He ruled that Ontario has to be part of the conversation either in the court or at the negotiating table.”

Also handling Sandy and Hill’s defense is Six Nations’ lawyer, Bev Jacobs who explained what happened in the court from her perspective.

“Today we were trying to bring a few things to light,” said Jacob, “One thing we wanted was to bring in the province to be a party to the action, and we succeeded in that. The other is the issue with respect to the health and safety of the burger stand. We were successful there too because, with the Doctor, who is the food inspector, Hill and Sandy  are working together they are able to address any areas of concern outside of any legal action. I think that was a good move.”

Along with the Judge ordering Ontario to the court, she felt her legal team had a successful day in court.

Outside the courtroom Sandy spoke with his lawyers and supporters.

“I’m feeling proud as I always am,” said Sandy following the hearing. “We are Haudenosaunee and that is our land, and that’s about it. I really doesn’t matter what they say, because we know it’s our land and that’s what it comes down to.”

The court stands adjourned until Ontario sees fit to get involved with the case and open up the can of worms the plank road land claim represents to the province and the federal government.

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