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Home News First Nations dispute on Chedoke Creek not our problem: Environment Ministry

First Nations dispute on Chedoke Creek not our problem: Environment Ministry

The Ontario Environment Ministry has doubled down on its demand that the Chedoke Creek cleanup be completed by August 31 instead of the originally-agreed deadline OF December 31. It also says a First Nations dispute that halted the cleanup last year is Hamilton’s problem.

Asked why the change, a ministry spokesperson replied, “water quality continues to be impaired by the continued release of contaminants in sediment in the affected area. For example, the spill added approximately two years of additional phosphorus loading to the water system.” Adding, “The ministry has extended the deadline for dredging of Chedoke Creek twice. Now that the City has obtained all of the required authorizations including the work permit extensions and renewals, there is no need to further delay clean-up activities.”

The spokesperson says the ministry “amended the order requiring the City to begin dredging activities in Chedoke Creek as soon as the weather permits and be completed by August 31, 2023.” but offered no explanation other than, “given the nature of the spill, it is critical that the remediation work gets underway to improve the watercourse and return Chedoke Creek to its pre-spill condition,” something that has been generally understood since the discovery of the spill in 2018.                                   

In theory, the project would have been completed by now, but it was halted last summer when members of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), who say they represent the hereditary chiefs, picketed the site before dredging could begin. They said at the time that they had not been adequately consulted on the plan for the cleanup, but city staff told council it looked more like the HDI were holding out for cash, describing the negotiations as “transactional.” The city has already come to terms with three elected band councils, including the Six Nations of the Grand River. Mark Hill, elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand, last year issued a statement that appeared to disavow the HDI’s jurisdiction in the matter, writing, “Certain provincial officials have created confusion for municipalities and developers within the Haldimand Tract concerning whom they must consult with when development is proposed in our territory. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed and recognized the elected Chief and Council of the Six Nations of the Grand River as the only legitimate government of our Nation.” With regard to the hereditary chiefs represented by the HDI, Hill wrote, “We hold our traditional leadership in high regard, maintaining ties of respect and frequent communication. But our reverence for their position and our traditions must not be used against us by external parties.”                                              

The Bay Observer asked the Ministry, “ Is the province prepared to assist in the resolution of the matter with the HDI or is the City of Hamilton on its own?”

The response confirmed the city will get no assistance from the Ministry with HDI. “The City of Hamilton is responsible for consulting with Indigenous communities and organizations and as you’ve noted has signed monitoring agreements with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River elected council, and the Huron-Wendat Nation.”

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