The removal of a three-month long barricade on the Hwy. 6 bypass in Caledonia is up to the OPP and not Six Nations people, says a spokesperson for the “Land Back Lane” housing development reclamation in Caledonia.
Skyler Williams announced last week that Six Nations supporters of Land Back Lane agreed to allow the removal of barricades, opening up the Hyw. 6 bypass for the first time in three months.
But the removal, which was expected last week, remains up in the air, said Williams.
“It’s all hanging on the cops and MTO (Ministry of Transportation),” said Williams. “We’ve been off there for five days. They have not made any attempt so far to fix anything.”
OPP Spokesperson Rodney Leclair said repair crews are being prevented access to the Sixth Line overpass and that’s causing the hold up.
“Repairs are required on the bypass and the Sixth Line overpass in order to re-open the bypass. Demonstrators continue to prevent access to the Sixth Line overpass which is causing a delay in the safe re-opening of the bypass.”
He said the MTO has completed their assessment and repairs are scheduled to start this week.
“I don’t have a timeline as to when it will be completed but I have been told it will take weeks as opposed to days to complete. Road repairs on Argyle Street in front of the church are completed and access is limited to the church only. Argyle Street remains closed due to significant and further damage to the roadway just north of Sixth Line caused by demonstrators overnight on Jan. 20.”
McKenzie Road also remains closed between Fuller Drive and York Road due to damage to the roadway.
Repairs will need to be completed before the roadway can be safely opened for through traffic, he said.
“Once demonstrators cease to prevent access, plans will be put in place to repair the roadway.”
Williams said Land Back Lane supporters want to reopen the bypass to ensure area residents can get to work or medical appointments without having to take a long detour as they’ve been doing for the past three months.
The roadblock on Argyle Street between Braemar Ave. and Sixth Line will remain but it will be moved back slightly to allow access to the parking lot at Caledonia Baptist Church, said Williams.
The roadblocks were set up in response to OPP spraying Land Back Lane supporters with rubber bullets, said Williams.
Last July, a small number of Six Nations people stopped construction of a former housing development site in Caledonia known as McKenzie Meadows, saying the property sits on unceded Six Nations land.
Since then, a number of supporters have been arrested for defying a court injunction barring anyone from setting foot on the former construction site. Three months ago, supporters of Land Back Lane shut down the bypass and Argyle Street in response to those arrests, said Williams.
He said police used rubber bullets on the protesters at Hwy. 6 and Sixth Line on Oct. 22 and in response, roads were shut down for the safety of Land Back Lane supporters.
“One guy was shot in the back of the leg and another guy had taser darts in his back but was able to pull away,” said Williams. “The barricades went up as a means to keep our people safe. It was a crazy time to see those rubber bullets flying by and for me that was the second time I’ve been shot at. It’s high time that we find some peaceful resolution. I think folks on both sides (Six Nations and Caledonia) are quite sick of this going on.”
Caledonia Mayor Ken Hewitt said the cost of fixing the roads will be about $250,000 to $450,000.
He said the roads have been “destroyed” adding they were “completely dug up.”
“My position has always been consistent. I don’t believe roads should be blocked. I don’t believe they should be destroyed.”
He said he was looking forward to the roads reopening.
“I’m excited for the road to be open but there’s an expectation that all the roads in this community should be open. I’ll be a lot more excited for both communities when we can see some common ground between and the ability to help our communities get to where we want to be rather than staring at an old junky school bus on the side of the road.”
An old school bus lays across Argyle Street as part of the barricade structure keeping the road closed.