I hate to say I told you so, but ..............
The monumental housing development which will see Caledonia double in size has received scant publicity. I blogged about it back in November 2013 (see here), and predicted that the nonchalant upbeat attitude expressed by local Haldimand County politicians was very premature since it will without a doubt come to the attention of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) and potentially set the stage for another Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) 2006 violent land reclamation. No one seemed to listen, or just played ostrich (head in the sand), hoping that nothing untoward would happen - magically or by some miraculous intervention.
The HDI had laid out their agenda with respect to such developments (they have a "protocol" and expect "consultation" and "accommodation"), and it goes without saying (or at least should), that they will be sure to become involved in a mega project that could line their pockets with lots of cold cash. That is their modus operandi. They will demand to be heard separate from the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) (who will have their own agenda), and eventually the potential exists for all hell to break loose. It should be obvious, but with the warm glow of sugar plums dancing in the heads of politicians, all they could envision was extensive housing tracts as far as the eye can see immediately east of Caledonia, with a huge shot in the arm of the local economy, and tax revenues flowing endlessly into the depleted coffers of Haldimand County. Idealistic and naieve I fear.
Somewhat later I began, but did not post, the following information update about the project:
Considering the magnitude of the proposed Empire Communities mega project, it is amazing that so little information has been found in the local newspapers. I don't recall either the Turtle Island News or Two Row Wampum devoting a line to this housing and industrial complex that would be ten times the size of the contentious Douglas Creek Estates which was the subject of a "reclamation" and chaos that still reigns in the southern tier of Caledonia.
The Sachem provided a good overview of the plans as they stood in 2013, as seen described in my posting here. Basically 3500 residential housing units are planned for the McClung Road area in the far northeastern edge of Caledonia. With an estimated 10,000 new residents it would in effect be a second Caledonia beside the present Town.
In The Sachem, Thursday 10 April 2014, p.36, is found an article, Developer hopes to get draft approvals this summer, we see how far this work has progressed - not far. Haldimand County Council is "deciding whether to approve the draft plans", and there are still a few "glitches" to work out. For example the Grand River Conservation Authority is not happy with the proposed changes to Seneca and Lindsay Creeks and the flatlands. Of course everyone sounds upbeat, but issues such as "traffic impact" are significant in a town where driving and parking on the weekend can make for very frustrating experiences - imagine if Caledonia was double in size - the traffic alone would be a huge nightmare at best. Try to imagine the bridge traffic alone - a guaranteed set up for frequently occurring road rage - despite the fact that Caledonia drivers by in large tend to be very courteous and considerate. Perhaps the Caledonia Highway 6 bypass, if extended between Green and Whitechurch Roads would absorb some of the overflow. Apparently, "The McClung proposal is the largest and most complex development that the County has had to deal with, according to staff".
The developer hopes to have four or five model homes built (as was the case at DCE when the "reclamation" occurred.
The only thing encouraging here is that, "no approvals have been granted yet for this development" - mercifully.
So with the prospect of this new development being on a far grander scale that the DCE, why have Six Nations seemingly ignored this proposed housing tract looming on a grand scale?
In this month "The Sachem" ran two articles on the McClung Development. On 6 August 2014, the article, Council approves draft plan for 3,500-unit McClung development can be seen here. If all goes according to plan (therein lies the rub as we shall see) this project will be the largest in the 13 year history of the municipality. It was reported that, After going through the 135-page staff report, council approved the Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendment as well as draft plan for the 3,500-unit development along McClung Road in Caledonia. Furthermore, Empire Communities plans to utilize the 532 acres of land in northeast Caledonia at the southwest corner of Haldimand Road 66 to create up to 3,500 residential units on the east and west side of McClung Road.
This includes a mix of singles, semis, townhouses and apartments developed over many years depending on the real estate market.
There are many further details about the specifics of this development to be found in the article, but which are peripheral to the point in relation to the potential reaction of the Six Nations to this residential development.
It is worth looking at the comments section relating to this article.
More recently "The Sachem" (22 August 2014, see here) ran an article entitled, Caledonia responds to 3,500 - unit McClung development. Further information about the timetable is provided here:
“What we’re hoping to do is some earth moving this year [in the] late fall,” said Stephen Armstrong, manager of land division with Empire Communities, which includes grading to get the site ready for construction.
Armstrong said residents can expect to see model homes and a sales centre constructed on site next spring, and depending on how the sales go, they want to install pipes in the ground to service the first phase of the project next fall.
The project is now moving full steam ahead after Empire Communities received draft plan approval from council earlier this month for the development that could see Caledonia double in size over the next 10 to 15 years.
This article focuses on the responses of various community members to the development. However, importantly, no one from Six Nations was interviewed here.
While those who are long time residents are not entirely pleased with the whole matter, citing boxy cookie cutter units and inevitable traffic issues, those who are involved with the business community are understandably highly optimistic. For example, Ken Parr, president of the Caledonia Chamber of Commerce, said he’s hearing positive responses from Caledonia business owners who are eager to see the growth in population.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for our community. From the business perspective, we are looking forward to having more commerce,” said Parr.
Once again the comments to this article are quite informative in and of themselves.
So, what will Six Nations have to say about the whole business, especially since their "reclamation" of the Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) in 2006 created anarchy and tensions that still remain to this day. Their (HDI) negative response to the McKenzie Meadows Development immediately east of DCE, despite (or because of) the Elected Council's agreement with the developer which would have seen monies for a Native language immersion school provided for each unit completed, does not auger well for the McClung development. The location of McClung, on the other side of the River and further away from the Reserve, may affect the dynamic (it would pose difficulties not seen at DCE in shutting anything down), but that remains to be seen.
I have followed the two Reserve newspapers since the McClung Development was announced last November, and did not see any reference whatsoever to this project that vastly overshadows DCE. Since Six Nations (Elected Council, but particularly Confederacy Council) have asserted some sort of entitlement to be compensated in some fashion for just about every thing of consequence that happens within 100 or so miles, surely they would react - eventually. Finally, in September, it appears that someone read the recent article in "The Sachem", and the word spread quickly. The response is as follows.
"Turtle Island News" (TIN) on 10 September 2014 (p.7) published an article entitled, Confederacy/Band not consulted on Caledonia subdivision. Here there appears to be an expression of surprise that, Haldimand County Council has approved a draft plan for a 3,500 - home subdivision slated to be built next spring but there has been no consultation with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) on the massive project.
They further state, completely erroneously, that, The proposed more than $80 million subdivision sits on unceded Six Nations land only a few kilometres northwest of the former Douglas Creek Estates (DCE) housing development site in Caledonia that Six Nations people shut down in 2006.
So it appears that once again, despite irrefutable evidence, some factions within the Six Nations community consider that the McClung land is on territory that was never included in a surrender. This does not bode well for the smooth sailing of the development since everyone here knows what these words mean, especially when included in a comparison with DCE and the statement that it was "shut down" by Six Nations (in and since April 2006).
Of course TIN, as the publishing arm of the HCCC, will no doubt have interviewed the Director and/or the non-Native legal representative of the HDI (although some within its power base at the HCCC, such as Men's Fire, have split with this enforcement wing of the Hereditary Council). They do not disappoint. The Director, said no one from Empire Homes or Haldimand County Council has consulted with them about the project. Furthermore, no level of government addressed the obvious impact and infringement this will have on the Haudenosaunee treaty rights and our land base. In the world of reality, since there are no treaty rights or "infringement" issues in the real world, it is no wonder that no one has made any effort to include Six Nations here - especially the HCCC which has no legal standing outside the Six Nations community. The article also notes that the Elected Council (SNEC) has also been excluded from any discussions about the matter. The Director of SNEC's Lands and Resources Department indicated that neither Empire Homes or Haldimand County has contacted them with the exception that the latter sent them a "notice of proposed development" as is standard practice in the voluntary "Grand River Notification Agreement".
In some twisted fashion the HDI Director maintains that the government must consult with the HCCC rather than SNEC (the legally mandated representatives of the Six Nations Reserve community) due to some obscure interpretation of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court that supposedly relegates the Elected Council to a mere administrative role. The HCCC see themselves as the only legitimate representatives of the Six Nations. I may see myself as the legitimate heir to the title of Duke of Northumberland, but that does not make it correct.
Once again we hear the militant and completely unsupported views of the HDI that the Elected Council is a child of the Indian Act and their role being to implement the Federal Government's, Indian Act policies designed for total assimilation of the Onkwehonweh nations of these lands. The Director then as expected accuses the Ontario Government of walking away from negotiations (over the construction of the fence at DCE), making a, conscious decision to stand by the culturally genocidal policies of the Indian Act system and attempt to force the HCCC into its legislated process which is contrary to the principles we have as Haudenosaunee. Now comes the part I predicted back in November of 2013 about the response of the same parties responsible for the unconscionable anti-social violent illegal acts perpetrated in 2006:
The Director, couldn't say if the project could spark another reclamation similar to Kanonhstaton. Further, "As far as any action from any of 'the people', there is no way anyone can predict what will happen." Of course there is a veiled threat embedded in all this, and there will be much more to come on this matter in the upcoming months. Stay tuned.