There is a reason why the Federal Government is trying to unload harbour lands across Canada. Most are polluted or have historic environment issues that literally could cost billions of dollars to resolve.
Cornwall’s harbour is so polluted that when a movement to create a beach occurred a few years ago it was pointed out that upsetting the sediment was the issue preventing a beach from happening.
Think about that. Laying some sand and people enjoying the waterfront was a potential health risk. What would happen if you wanted to actually develop the waterfront area?
The people of Cornwall still haven’t been told the truth in what led up to the chem tanks on our waterfront. Even with MP Guy Lauzon’s outburst during the election the City has not come clean in what was most likely a cover up of secret negotiations. Clearly the public did not want nor wants chem tanks across from development property nor do they see it as a future plus for Cornwall.
Now we have had over a year of secretive meetings with the Federal government. Bob Kilger and Mike Mitchell are gone replaced by Abram Benedict and Lesley O’Shaughnessy, but work to move forward is at the stage that some facts are leaking through.
A creation of a Municipal Service Corporation is being bandied about. It would be a partnership between Akwesasne and Cornwall.
This raises a few flags off the bat. The reason Akwesasne is involved is because of land claims. Most land claims will not be resolved during our life times. There simply isn’t political will on either side to go to court because frankly, in some cases decisions could go either way. In a more sinister level, it’s Canadian tax payers that would be forced to pay for the entire process one way or another.
So rather than deal with any possible land claim or issue from our friends in Akwesasne we’ve made them partners.
Now if the land actually belongs to Akwesasne then it should be theirs. If it doesn’t then they shouldn’t get any. What is with this sharing proposal? This isn’t a tiny proposition. This is probably the biggest impact on the future of the region.
People have to remember that when Heart of the City had a project in the parking lot on First and Pitt that hit oil tanks it was the City of Cornwall that had to cough up nearly $1M for clean up. Who will pay the bills when we strike issues along our water front?
We’re not sharing a symbolic event. This is something that potentially can make or break our community.
Does the MCA or City of Cornwall remotely have the expertise for this exercise? Nope. Have they called in Independent Consultants? Not to this scribblers knowledge, and frankly this is an area where you bring in a consultant or two.
This is a community that has a brutally bad record when it comes to the river and environment. Big Ben has no membrane and is literally contributing to the deaths of many in the region without any coverage or thought to fix because frankly, there is no money to address the issue.
Allegedly the land that the new Wal-Mart is on in some sections had to be excavated more than 40 feet to remove icky stuff in the ground. This isn’t cheap to fix.
When the bridge bed was being taken down recently there were media reports and leaks of illegal dumping on Akwesasne lands.
Again, this project could be the biggest factor in our regions future, all of our futures, yet it’s been done in secrecy, and even scarier, could be signed to without any more than a simple public consultation.
There are of course more issues, but one thing that is utterly apparent is that before any deal should move through it should be transparent, and the public should be voting on it via referendum or plebiscite. That includes Akwesasne, and Cornwall.
This is far too important a decision to be made by a handful of councilors who most likely will not be around if the brown stuff hits the fan, and have zero accountability other than hand wringing as tax payers have to cough up the costs.
While waterfront development is key to the future of both Akwesasne and Cornwall the process should be transparent and accountable. Sadly it’s difficult for the public to make that happen when kept in the dark.
What do you think dear CFN viewers? You can post your comments below.