Six Nations formally objects to Greenbelt development

Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council has roundly objected to the province’s plan to scrap parts of the Greenbelt for housing development, with former lands and research director Phil Monture saying the Greenbelt amendment “breaks the law.”

Six Nations was not consulted on the Ford government’s plans to amend Greenbelt-protected lands, which flies in the face of the Crown’s duty to consult First Nations on treaty lands.

“As far as I’m concerned, this legislation breaks the law,” said Monture at elected council’s political liaison meeting Monday.

Romeo Segota, audit supervisor with the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, was at Monday’s meeting to gather reactions to the Greenbelt changes and hear how the decision impacts Six Nations and its lands and treaty rights, which will be put into a report to present to the province at a later date.

The question, he said, was how to balance the needs to accommodate growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe with Indigenous land rights.

“I know Indigenous consultation should be a huge part when governments make decisions that impact Indigenous rights,” said Segota. “This is a huge land use decision. It’s important I get in contact to see if there are considerations from Indigenous communities, for our audit.”

The provincial government says it wants to cut into the Greenbelt to limit suburban sprawl.

Ontario is proposing to remove 15 sections of the Greenbelt, with two sections in southern Hamilton and one in Grimbsy, and in exchange, it will add a larger area to the belt from the Paris-Galt Moraine area.

Elected Council said it was concerned the Greenbelt amendments could harm environmentally-sensitive lands and will set a precedent to establish further removals in the future.

Coun. Sherrilynn Hill-Pierce wanted it on record that his presentation was not to be considered consultation.

“I totally disagree with all this,” she said. “I think a lot of us First Nations do. It doesn’t seem like Mr. Ford even cares. It really bothers me. I know there’s a housing crisis but…the Greenbelt is protected for a reason. It’s not protected just because. It’s a green space, it’s farmland, it’s forests, it’s wetlands, it’s a watershed. I think there’s other areas in Ontario that could be (used to) build houses. I’m very disappointed in the push in this. My community – we’re totally against it. It shouldn’t be happening. I hope Mr. Ford starts listening…and move it somewhere else.”

Coun. Audrey Powless-Bomberry said the whole situation should’ve been handled differently.

“We were not consulted, we were not engaged, when we should have been, right when this was first thought of. It’s done now. And it’s done in a strategic way by the government.”

She is concerned about the plan to develop on wetlands in the current Greenbelt.

“Those are the last things anyone should ever be touching. We need those for the sustainability of our lives. The big developers are the people who are cashing in on this one. It’s unfortunate that First Nations in Canada are so disrespected. They don’t care. The process was flawed. How does it help anyone, except developers who are getting richer? There are other places other than the Greenbelt that can be built on. It has to be re-thought. This is not a very wise decision by the government.”

Monture said he hopes the province will take Six Nations’ objections and concerns into consideration before moving ahead with development on the Greenbelt instead of just “bulldozing through.”




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