Statement from Mayor Ken Hewitt & Council regarding local COVID-19 situation, Caledonia protest

COVID

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.

CALEDONIA PROTEST

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.

 

Stay Safe,

Mayor Ken Hewitt

 

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