The Bay Observer has contacted the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to find out why they issued an order last week reducing the deadline for dredging Chedoke Creek by four months. The Ministry had originally agreed to a December 31 date but unilaterally reduced the deadline to August 31st. City council has agreed to launch an appeal of the order.
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.”
Hamilton Water staff say even without the unresolved dispute with the HDI, shortening the deadline could be problematic because cleanup crews won’t know what unseen problems may exist until the dredging actually starts. Unless the province is prepared to provide assistance in resolving the dispute with the HDI, they should butt out. Setting artificial deadlines that may not be achievable does nothing to resolve a very delicate issue.
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