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Since 2019, Haldimand County has been working to secure a vendor capable of delivering high-speed internet to all under-serviced areas within the community. In June 2020, KWIC Internet was announced as the successful proponent and network construction planning is currently underway.
In the months ahead, Haldimand County staff and KWIC project leaders will be working closely to coordinate the installation of necessary infrastructure, including fibre trenching. KWIC will also be facilitating community consultations to determine the best placement for fixed wireless towers. Public consultation notices will be delivered to initial project build areas throughout December 2020.
Fibre construction is expected to begin in mid-late January 2021 (weather permitting) and wireless tower construction in early February 2021 (also weather permitting). Based on these timeframes, it is anticipated that services for homes and businesses in the western part of Haldimand County will start becoming available during the first half of 2021.
As network construction progresses and the project moves forward, KWIC and Haldimand County will keep residents informed of more area-specific timelines. Over the project’s 5-year timeframe, broadband services will be made available to all of Haldimand County’s under-serviced areas (areas that do not have access to unlimited broadband internet with minimum download/upload speeds of 50/10 Mbps).
“We are very excited to see this project get off the ground and look forward to working with residents and stakeholders to deliver safe, efficient, industry-leading services that empower Haldimand County to connect like never before,” said Mark Rapley, KWIC Internet’s Director of Operations.
Bringing broadband internet to rural communities is one of Council’s top priorities for the 2018-2022 term. “Council is extremely pleased to see this critically important initiative move forward. It is especially welcome news given the rapid digital shift we’ve seen over the past few months and the increasing need for individuals, families and businesses to have reliable, affordable internet,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt.
Haldimand County did not extend its face mask bylaw because the Provincial order with respect to wearing face masks takes precedence and so there was no need to overlap with another bylaw that would only cause confusion. Haldimand County respects the Provincial orders and fully subscribes to the face mask rules as outlined by them.
As we are seeing numbers increase in the surrounding areas, I implore you all to be vigilant in social distancing and wearing masks where appropriate. You are doing your part and you are making a difference. Particularly for our most vulnerable, including our small businesses that we wish to remain open throughout this difficult time. Currently under the new tiered system we are green and let’s keep that way.
Who has registered ownership of the lands at 1535 McKenzie?
Foxgate Developments Inc., a development company jointly owned by Losani Homes and Ballantry Homes, has held legal title to the McKenzie Lands now for five years. There has never been any claim made by any indigenous group against the title to the lands. The history is that in 1835 and 1841 the McKenzie Lands were surrendered by the Six Nations to the Federal Crown, which sold them via Crown Grant in 1853 to Thomas Nicholls. The Federal Crown grant and patent form a certified a root of ownership. Continuously from 1853 until today, the McKenzie lands were owned, occupied, and sold to third party residents and farmers without any claims registered against title. In 2006 the Province of Ontario certified the title giving “Fee Simple Absolute Title” to the previous owner that sold the property to Foxgate.
Are the lands at 1535 approved for development?
Yes. The lands were approved for development in 2003 by the County of Haldimand. In 2006 the lands were designated as a Growth Plan Area for Development. In 2015 Foxgate Developments resurrected the 2003 approvals and had them fully re-approved by the County in 2017. In 2019 the County approved the site servicing (roads, sewers and watermains), and in July when the protests began, the site was almost fully serviced. In August 2020 the Province reviewed its Growth Plan and included 1535 McKenzie Road (and all of Haldimand County that is not on the Reserve) in its up to date Growth Plan for Development shown below. To be clear, except for the Six Nations Reserve which straddles the Brant-Haldimand border, none of the “Haldimand Tract” lands are held back from being “Growth Plan Area”. The Province fully encourages growth and development in the Haldimand Tract.
Why did Haldimand County approve the development?
For the same reasons that development is approved in the Haldimand Tract everywhere else such as Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford etc.
In good faith, Haldimand County — through its notification agreement with Six Nations – was very transparent regarding this plan and every other plan in Haldimand. Why would we assume that after a legal binding agreement with the Band Council signed and accepted anything would prevent this from happening? In fact, we were encouraged by the very agreement that this was a positive step forward in working with Six Nations. It was by no means to suggest that the value of the land was such as they already paid millions for it and it was by no means to suggest that the real claim in front of the Feds was diminished by this agreement. It was simply to recognize that the ongoing issues with our Nations were still in court.
Why don’t we just freeze development?
You cannot simply just stop development for many reasons. It takes many yeas and dollars for developments like this to become real. There has to be some reliance on the planning process for these companies to secure financing for these projects. As a tax payer you rely on development to keep your taxes relatively low. Without development you can add approximately 3% to your annual tax rates. Every municipality needs growth to pay for the needs and wants of those living within.
Haldimand County’s temporary Face Covering By-Law No. 2191/20, which took effect August 1, 2020, is set to expire November 3. Council will not be extending the by-law as stricter, provincially-mandated regulations are now in effect.
The Province’s face covering regulations took effect October 5 and require that all businesses and organizations in Ontario require persons to wear a face covering in public areas at all times. These regulations supersede those outlined in the County’s by-law.
County staff will continue to have a role in education and enforcement of the Province’s regulations. The OPP will similarly continue with a role in this regard.
Should the Province rescind its regulations, staff will seek advice from the Health Unit and if necessary, work towards bringing another by-law forward for Council’s consideration. At this time there has been no indication from the Province as to when face covering regulations might be rescinded, and it is expected that they will remain in effect throughout the winter months.
Haldimand County will continue working closely with the Health Unit in managing the local COVID-19 response.
Well, if there was any doubt regarding the peaceful approach of these protestors – actually professional agitators as some could be called – we have seen clearly their real actions and their complete disregard for public infrastructure and the officers sworn to protect and serve the public. Their actions are despicable and unforgivable in a time where our first responders should be given the utmost respect in helping our communities through these difficult times.
To suggest that the OPP started a confrontation giving these individuals the idea to strip the very rights of those living in Caledonia by the destruction of several main roads is completely preposterous and further demonstrates that other agendas exist. Violence is not being promoted by the OPP, the courts or us locally. The violence exists with those that were clearly seen on video by the OPP.
OPP do not just start firing weapons into crowds because they are bored. Those insinuations are purely an effort to garner support of their misguided decisions. These same peaceful protestors, despite our efforts, have to date said “NO” to both OPP and Six Nation Police escorting Hydro workers in to restore power from the burned out pole for residents living on the adjacent farm. They currently are running on a generator to provide heat and hydro to their home since the incident. That is the true picture of the people that some feel obliged to support. They should take a harder look a their own actions.
Another very disturbing issue and the only thing that I can agree with the protestors on is that no one has heard any responses from the Federal government who carries all the weight in terms of discussions to be had with members of Six Nations. It is disgusting that with all the pleas from all parties we still have no engagement from them.
I have been in contact with the Provincial Minister Greg Rickford and he agrees with the position of getting the Federal government involved to engage leaders on Six Nations.
People have asked “what can be done?” I encourage you to in every possible way contact both the Provincial and Federal governments. They must engage, they must put forth a path to get this into a board room and off our streets.
A permanent injunction has been granted by Justice Harper to both Foxgate Developments and Haldimand County.
Sadly, Six Nations missed an opportunity today to bring both Crowns into court. As I mentioned, Skyler had the opportunity to help further the cause that everyone on Six Nations has been long awaiting and hoping for.
His choice to continue to abuse the process and openly defy the court that was prepared to facilitate the Crown legally into the proceedings has let all of Six Nations and those in Caledonia affected down.
He does not want to be called a leader, but his actions over the past few months have warranted that and he has assumed a role with his postings, his ask for monies, and his support of violent actions that have transpired over time.
I have and will always support a process that brings the Nations together to adopt a transparent methodology that will advance the Haldimand Tract claims. It must be done peacefully and respectfully. None of which would be consistent of the actions of those on McKenzie Meadows.
Striking a working table that can capture the needs of those on Six Nations and ensuring their voices are heard within the context of what could be Nation to Nation would be a positive step in achieving a solution. One that many people could get behind.
He has been clear that he does not lead his people, and I would agree with him on that. Most do not lead, but many follow. When decisions are made by people of influence, such as Skyler that ultimately affect others, it will bring scrutiny and many opinions. A decision made will never capture the interests of everyone especially one so polarizing as ongoing land disputes.
So again I would ask what is the true agenda of these protestors and Skyler? It is not to advance the claims process because they passed on that opportunity. Any argument made forthwith now carries no weight with respect to the outstanding claims that are in front of the Federal Courts.
Statement from Mayor Ken Hewitt & Council regarding McKenzie Meadows occupation – October 18, 2020
As we approach the Oct 22nd court date, Skyler Williams has a very important decision to make. In his, and those occupying the site, have successfully been able to bring the issues forward and now have a court and Justice prepared to allow for his constitutional challenge. As a proclaimed leader of those that have occupied the Mackenzie Meadows site, I would ask – what is the true agenda? If it is in fact for the greater good of Six Nations, then he should seriously consider the offer from Justice Harper.
Six Nations have been waiting for the past 20 years to have their day in court with the federal government in hopes to be able to begin the process in resolving an outstanding claim with respect to monies owed for land acquisitions along the Grand River. Currently, this is not to be heard until 2022.
Justice Harper’s offer to accept Skyler’s request to fully participate in the proceedings if he complies with the injunction, is a great opportunity for the Six Nations community.
On October 5, Skyler filed an application to bring various allegations against the federal government, such as a failure to consult, breach of duty, and a failure to implement the recommendations of the Ipperwash Enquiry. These issues are much larger than the occupation of the current construction site. Skyler now has the door open to bring the Federal Government into legal proceedings. Hopefully he chooses to do so; there is a lot more to talk about than Landback Lane.
The Federal Government does need to take responsibility here, and the innocent home-buyers or developers should not be caught in the middle.
As has always been stated, the community benefit of Nation to Nation dialogue far outweighs the needs, desires or agendas of the few. Justice Harper is allowing the use of his court to enable that opportunity for Six Nations.
Standing in defiance not only extinguishes that opportunity for ALL the members of Six Nations, but would suggest otherwise an agenda that is beyond the settlement of ongoing longstanding issues between our two nations.
It has always been my desire and the Councils to see a positive and peaceful resolution and that time has arrived. The choice on how to proceed rests with those on the site and that choice can positively affect the outcome for those on Six Nations and Haldimand looking for results.
On Tuesday, October 13, Haldimand County Council formally adopted a new Forest Conservation By-Law (No. 2204/20) to replace regional forest conservation by-laws that have been in effect since prior to 1981. The new by-law is aligned with current forestry standards and demonstrates Haldimand’s ongoing commitment to protecting natural resources.
Over the past two decades there have been many changes in the realm of forest management and certain activities permitted under the former Regional Forest Conservation By-law (enacted in 2000) are no longer considered best practices in the forestry industry. In 2017, staff initiated the forest conservation by-law review process to bring Haldimand’s forestry regulations up to contemporary standards.
The Forest Conservation By-law review was conducted over a 3-year period and largely informed by consultations with Haldimand’s Agricultural Advisory Committee, conservation authorities/committees, forestry industry experts, neighbouring municipalities, private landowners and the broader community. The new by-law sets out tree cutting regulations that balance the ecological need for woodland conservation with landowners’ property management and/or agricultural needs.
The new Forest Conservation By-Law:
promotes Good Forestry Practices to assist landowners, staff and forestry professionals when planning for and conducting tree cutting activities;
introduces a simple, straightforward permitting system that offers landowners more flexibility to meet personal land management objectives while protecting woodland habitats;
deregulates isolated woodlands that are less than one (1) hectare in size and provides additional exemptions for tree cutting;
sets out a defined approval and appeal process for regulated woodland clear-cutting;
implements harsher penalties for tree-cutting activities that contravene the by-law.
Forestry staff will be working closely with the community and private woodland owners to implement the new by-law and provide ongoing education with respect to tree conservation in Haldimand.
Haldimand County has terminated its emergency declaration that was instated on March 25, 2020 due to COVID-19. This decision aligns with the termination of the provincial emergency and comes as the County moves from an emergency response focus toward recovery.
Though the emergency has been terminated, municipal and provincial orders that were introduced while the emergency was in effect remain in place. Residents and visitors are asked to continue following emergency orders still in effect and follow the advice of the public health authorities – including wearing a face-covering, maintaining physical distancing and regularly washing hands.
Haldimand County by-law will continue to enforce public health orders with assistance from the Health Unit.
“Thanks to our community’s extraordinary efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19, the number of new cases in Haldimand continue to drop,” said Haldimand County Mayor Ken Hewitt. “I do want to reiterate that even though the emergency has been terminated, it does not mean the pandemic is over. Staff will continue working closely with the Health Unit and Medical Officer of Health to manage the local response, which includes planning for a potential second wave,” Hewitt added.
Despite terminating the emergency, the County’s Emergency Operations Centre will remain active and members of the Emergency Management Team will continue to meet regularly and monitor the situation closely.
For more information on the County’s COVID-19 response – including a list of public health orders and municipal facility re-openings – visit HaldimandCounty.ca/COVID-19.
Firstly, I want to publicly say that our thoughts and prayers go out to our friend and colleague Chief Mark Hill of the Six Nations Band Council in this tough time.
As this is a very complex issue there have been many thoughts and opinions. Sadly it is difficult to have any real dialogue with those that are so polarized on the issue. When you do, the only argument thrown back is that, simply, you are racist. Well, I know that I am not one and that having a difference of opinion is not only healthy but it is what makes us all better so long as the debate can remain peaceful. Which I will get back to later.
Let me illustrate some facts that some do not want to hear:
Fact 1.An Owner can rely upon a Crown Grant as a Solid Root of Title: A surrender of the lands at 1535 McKenzie Road was executed on March 26, 1835. It was signed by 11 Chiefs. Nearly twenty years later on November 21, 1853 the Crown issued its Crown Patent a copy. By operation of longstanding and settled law, Foxgate, having a Crown Patent, holds a solid and reliable legal root of title.
Fact 2. An Owner can rely on a Chain of Possessory Title dating back to before the Land Titles System: Until the 2000s the Province of Ontario operated under a “Registry System” which generally required owners to provide their rights independently of the Province. In the 2000s, land in Ontario was converted to a ‘land titles system’ wherein the ownership of land could be certified by the Province and relied upon. The Province created a process of conversion to the land titles system which involves notification of adjacent land owners to extinguish any off title or possessory (‘squatters rights”) claims. The McKenzie site lands operated within the Registry System for roughly 150 years. During that time, no claims for an interest in the title were ever filed and it appears that it was farmed by owners having taken title from the original crown grantee Thomas Nichols. During that time, no recorded occupation of the land by the Occupiers was made, yet it was possessed and owned by the various chain of title holders whose interests were recorded in the Provincial Land Registry Office(s) throughout the 150 years of time. No recorded claims for open, notorious or possessory or prescriptive rights against 1535 McKenzie Road were ever made during the 150 year chain of title.
Fact 3.There IS acomprehensive and longstanding claim advanced by the Six Nations, but it does not ask for the McKenzie Site to be returned: The claims in relation to lands within the Haldimand Tract form part of the scope of this action. Throughout its 25 year history, the claim has been amended and has never sought a caution, a vesting order, or a certificate of pending litigation against the lands at 1535 McKenzie. The actual claim of the Six Nations is a claim for an accounting of trust monies allegedly spent or not properly held to the credit of the Six Nations. If there were an actual claim that the lands at 1535 McKenzie still belonged to the Six Nations, it would have been set out in the actual Claim. Furthermore, if property rights, whether to own, occupy, use or enjoy, the lands at 1535 McKenzie were to be claimed, the prayer for relief would need to include a vesting order from the court. The Six Nations have not claimed an interest in the lands at 1535 McKenzie Road.
Fact 4.The Province has directed growth to Haldimand County: The Province of Ontario identified Haldimand County as a “growth plan area” in its Growth Plan as shown below. Foxgate proceeded to invest in 1535 McKenzie where the Province directed that investment and where affordable housing is and can be provided to Ontarians. The County of Haldimand’s Official Plan has designated the 1535 McKenzie site for residential development now for more than 20 years. The development by Foxgate at 1535 McKenzie Road has been encouraged by both the Province and the Municipality.
Fact 5. All persons in the Caledonia Community have received notice that the McKenzie site was proposed for development. Two full applications for Draft Plans of Subdivision Approval (2003 and 2006 – the “Planning Applications”) passed through community circulation as required by the Planning Act. The two processes of: (1.) erecting a sign on the site so all passers by would be notified of public consultation meetings, and (2.) then the holding of the public meetings to receive consultative input, were duly followed. No person(s) were denied an opportunity to participate and have their voices heard. The planning process permits anyone who makes a submission at the public meeting to appeal the development to the Land Planning Appeals Tribunal (formerly OMB). Past and current governments have worked to keep this appeal process accessible to all persons. Foxgate has provided opportunity for all persons within the community to provide input, comment, and consultation. Those persons also had the right to appeal the development.
Fact 6.Six Nations Consultation: The Planning Applications proceeded under a specific ‘Grand River Notification Agreement’ between the municipality and the First Nations communities which has been in place since 1996. This agreement has been reviewed and renewed every 5 years. It was followed in 2003 and 2016. No objections to the Foxgate development were made despite circulation under the agreement. Foxgate and/or the County of Haldimand specifically provided the Six Nations with notification of the McKenzie development at least twice over the span of 13 years in the ‘agreed to’ method of doing so.
Fact 7. Foxgate Accommodated the Six Nations: From April 2018 to May 2019 the attached “Definitive Agreement” was negotiated and eventually struck between Foxgate and the Six Nations. Funds were paid and land was transferred. Contrary to social media the agreement is not a land purchase and as expressed by Band Council was legally obligated to do so. The consideration flowing from the Six Nations to Foxgate was simply an agreement to provide continued support and refrain from protests.
Fact 8. Ontarians are entitled to rely on their Courts: Foxgate obtained two orders of the Superior Court of Ontario requiring the Occupiers to vacate the lands at 1535 McKenzie. The Orders were dated July 30, 2020 and August 7, 2020. This second order was necessary in order to provide the Occupiers with a right to protest the injunction after having received the first one. The Occupiers did not participate. In fact, rather than attending the injunction hearing on August 7, they simply returned to the site on August 5 in violation of the existing order. Despite this continued violation, the Province has permitted the Occupiers to remain in contempt of the Orders now for weeks. In fact, when the Occupiers were arrested on August 5, 2020, they were released from custody and permitted to resume the contempt of the court’s order openly defying both the jurisdiction and authority of Ontario’s Superior Court. It is not acceptable that the contempt of the Court Orders continues for weeks to be tolerated.
Fact 9. The Hardships have been Ignored to the Detriment of Hard Working Ontarians: It is now one month since the occupation began and almost three weeks since the original court order was obtained. The costs and expenses of leaving a 25 acre construction site vacant are incurred by honest, hard working, tax paying, Ontarians. These people who have committed to work or live in the McKenzie community are the economic engine of Ontario. The completion of services to, and then construction of, the McKenzie 219 home project will either employ or house over 1,000 Ontarians who will support their families and pay their taxes on payroll deductions or via land transfer taxes. Currently excavators sit idle in Caledonia. They will need to be reassembled and repainted at the contractors’ cost. 500 Home-Buyers have invested twenty million dollars in deposits towards their dreams of home ownership now have their plans left on hold indefinitely. Construction workers and trades are on standby, waiting for confirmation whether their contracts to supply labour or materials for the construction will be honoured. All stakeholders in the McKenzie project – developers, builders, homebuyers, lenders, trades and community members have relied on the above eight facts to get where we are. Conversely, the protestors had the above eight opportunities to peacefully and legally object to either Foxgate’s title or its development. None of the nine legal ways were chosen. For equitable and economic reasons in addition to legal and planning reasons, the McKenzie project must resume as quickly as possible.
As you are, I am tired of hearing about stolen land and that we are guilty of stealing land. We did not steal any land as everyone has legally bought and paid or paying for the property that they rightfully own. The Federal government is solely responsible for the mismanagement of land over the years with respect to our First Nations people across Canada and they will be the party responsible to make the appropriate amends. Not you or I.
If the protesters are objecting the Band Council misrepresenting them or the Confederacy then they should be working within the territory to establish a more transparent method of governance that ALL the people can support and ultimately benefit from. Again that is not the developers problem, nor the people of Haldimand. As Mayor I would be more than happy to work with all invested parties to help that process along.
Ultimatums never accomplish a successful conclusion and, the process that is currently being adopted is an ultimatum and I do not support it and always will speak out against it. I am not racist, I believe that everyone should be treated fairly and equally and I take pride in that our Council and staff of Haldimand County have constantly taken that approach over the years with ALL of our ethnic friends regardless of what origin they are from.
There has been plenty of conversations over the past couple of weeks behind the scenes with many different people. Like the Premier of Ontario states, there is one rule of law for all people in this Province and, like him, I expect that everyone will follow that rule of law.
Holding up this developer and those that are currently waiting for their homes to be built is not going to accomplish anything but stain the good reputation of the many people who have, over the years, been trying to re-establish what existed prior to Douglas Creek Estates.
We have an opportunity to push the claim forward in court, we have an opportunity to change processes like additions to reserve. We have an opportunity to help establish an acceptable form of governance. None of which can be done in the face of this type of protest. Pretending that it is peaceful is an insult to the many stakeholders involved. It is not peaceful.
I look forward to the peaceful end to this ILLEGAL occupation, and I will not support lifting the injunctions until all roads, railings and property are completely vacated.
We fully expect that the OPP will act on these injunctions should those so choose to continue to defy the wishes of the majority on Six Nations and Caledonia.
There are many things going on to resolve this protest and it is changing rapidly. As an update today Haldimand County received the support in court for a blanket injunction covering our roads and property. Also the developers received judge’s support of their injunction as well. CN is currently getting an injunction as well. All of which will require the OPP to enforce.
I have been in several conversations with the following people, Deputy Commissioner John Cain and Detachment Commander Phil Carter of the OPP, representatives of both Ballantry and Losani Homes, Chief Mark Hill of the band council, and many other members of Six Nations.
I have asked the Premier for a conference call with his Ministers and Chief Hill to discuss some possible solutions and am waiting for a response.
For the record, I do not support this protest, the people involved and their behaviour. I truly believe that they do not reflect all the people of Six Nations. They are bringing harm to the good spirited and natured people of Six Nations with their demonstrations.
They say that the Confederacy was not consulted. They say no accommodations were made. They say they are protecting the land and their claim. Yet I would ask why now are they coming out? The process to consult occurred many years ago. Six Nations was notified by both the County and the Band Council of this development. That includes members of the Confederacy.
The developers took upon themselves to go further without any legal obligation to offer land and money to Six Nations as a token of respect. This has nothing to do with the ongoing land claim that is taking 27 years to get in front of federal courts. An issue that needs addressing.
So when this development was made public, there were public meetings in Haldimand and Band Council hosted public meetings on Six Nations with an openness about the arrangement structure with the developers. If these individuals did not like the arrangement it was at that time to make it known to Band Council for accepting it. If the Confederacy felt the same, it was at that time to discuss it further. If that divide continues then it should be within Six Nations that they debate and discuss these concerns not on McKenzie Meadows.
The developer followed a process, Haldimand County followed a process and Band Council followed a process. All of which was open to the public for scrutiny all along.
Holding the developer back and those excited new homeowners from realizing their dream is nonsense and like the Premier states, “enough is enough”.
Why does it take 27 years to hear a claim let alone settle one? I understand the complexities that exist but I would say once again, “enough is enough”. Every member of Six Nations deserves to be angry with this process and each one of us should be asking our federal government, why?
I fully can appreciate their frustration and the anger, but I do not condone the methods by which they are exercising that frustration and anger. It is deplorable that our governments have treated our indigenous friends in this matter but wronging a wrong is not the solution and hurting your neighbours is not the path to success.
As Mayor, I will continue to follow any methods that will help push the local outstanding claim forward. I will work with all those involved to continue to look at shared opportunities with Six Nations such as the waterline project that would see fresh Lake Erie water to all or parts of Six Nations.
I will NOT work with and or support anyone who thinks that acts of civil disobedience are an appropriate way to make their point. I will push for the OPP to apply the injunctions on those breaking the judge’s orders and I will look to our judicial system to apply the law on those that so just deserve it.
I am providing this information for those that have interest in what is going on. I know that many of you will have opinions and thoughts and I ask that while it is an emotionally charged situation, please refrain from any racial comments as I will delete anything that suggest so.
Mayor Ken Hewitt
Haldimand County Council
Stewart Patterson John Metcalfe Dan Lawrence Tony Dalimonte Rob Shirton Bernie Corbett