August, September, and October 2017:
In addition to attending the weekly General Council, Committee of the Whole, individual committee meetings and specially-called meetings — I worked on a project with DAM Studios & Grand River Ontario Works; attended two Ontario Works Basic Income community information sessions; the Motherrisk information session; and the Review of Bylaws community meeting.
I read and analyzed a lot of documents such as First Nations Acquisition of Hydro One Sale; attended the Haldimand Proclamation birthday and memorial to Bill Squires. I attended a meeting with some elderly at Sunrise Court, paid a visit to some constituents and helped several community members address and resolve their issues.
DISTRICT MEETINGS: Councillor Wray Maracle and I held district meetings for the past six months. While attendance was poor the people want us to continue. So our next meeting is Nov. 29, 2017. All are welcome.
BUSINESSES NOT ACCEPTING STATUS CARDS: The Ministry of Finance has a hotline for people if a business refuses tax exemption and/or the status card. Or wants unnecessary information. Call the hotline at 1-800-ONTAX or 1-866-668-8277 to report the business.
UPDATE ON STATUS CARDS: INAC is phasing out the orange status card in favor of the new Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) card. So Six Nations Lands Membership has a limited supply of the orange status cards at any given time so call 519-445-4613. The new SCIS card is only available at INAC’s Brantford office at 58 Dalhousie Street (519-751-6462). It takes INAC from four months to a year to issue the new card so apply early.
IN-CAMERA MEETINGS: For 14 years I’ve diligently tried to curb In-Camera meetings. That’s because I believe people have a right to know what decisions are being made on their behalf. But council is hogtied to secrecy by the Code of Conduct, Oath of Office and Roles & Responsibilities of chief and council. Pleased to say I recently made a small measure of headway. Public Works Director Mike Montour’s monthly report to the Building & Infrastructure Committee was always In-Camera. I kept questioning why. As of the last two monthly meetings the majority of Mike’s report is now in the open session.
LAND: Land for sale is scarce these days. Unless there’s family land, people wanting to build a house are having a hard time finding land for sale. This is partly because families either don’t want to sell family land or know they can sell the whole package to the cigarette tycoons. This has not only limited land for sale but significantly increased the price per acre which for many makes land unaffordable. Since 2014 Housing hasn’t let people add their name to the housing waiting list unless they already have land.
ADDED TO RESERVE: The SNEC has several hundred acres of land that is tied up in the Added to Reserve process. This is not only cumbersome but can take years. SNEC has been trying to speed up this process but all we get from Indian Affairs is the runaround. Although this land is currently rented to farmers, the land needs to be added to reserve before it can be used for housing plus have infrastructure in place.
HOUSING CRISIS: Our people are having to live in deplorable housing conditions simply to have a place to live. Or move off the reserve to the city. Clearly, the housing programs are not meeting the needs. The less fortunate, single parents, singles, fixed incomes, elderly and the working poor are falling through the cracks. Council needs to look at what initiatives such alternative housing is out there to help all our people have a home to live in.
SEPTIC BEDS: Seems more people are opting for holding tanks over septic beds because installing a septic bed can cost up to $20,000. The problem is stand-alone holding tanks have to be emptied more frequently as opposed to a septic tank. This has increased the workload at Public Works. A few years ago PW needed only one truck to empty holding tanks. Today PW has two trucks with two drivers with a wait time of up to 3 days after a call comes in.
WASTE WATER STSYTEM: The increase in waste from holding tanks has impacted the 4th Line Waste Water lagoons. The existing lagoon system is already over design capacity which prohibits community growth. Currently PW needs funding to procure an engineering firm to design a Waste Water Treatment Plant to meet the current and long term needs of our community.
OTHER ISSUES: Some Sixth Line & Chiefswood Road homeowners want a four-way stop sign at the corner. At this corner the roads are at odd angles and with the Chiefswood Gas laneway close to the corner and cars speeding over the bridge this makes exiting in any direction very dangerous. Every year there are several accidents at this corner. SNEC has directed PW to conduct an evaluation of all the corners on the reserve.