Federal Harbour Lands Deal of Secrecy Fiscal Threat to Cornwall Ontario by Jamie Gilcig FEB 18, 2016

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.

Should Any Harbour Deal Move Forward in Cornwall Ontario Without the Community Voting on it?

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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.



  1. Secrecy…..that’s the federal government’s trump card. They do a lot of negotiations with municipalities in secret telling the parties involved that if anything is leaked “negotiations” will be terminated. Is it right? Nope. But……

    What oil company used to own the land at First and Pitt? They should have been responsible for the cleanup, not the taxpayers of Cornwall. Even if a company abandons a site they are supposed to be responsible for its cleanup, even if the sale doesn’t happen until years later. A perfect example is the southwest corner of Second St W and York St. It has been abandoned for years, but is owned by PetroCan (Suncor). They are (slowly) cleaning that site up.

  2. In a community such as Cornwall, which has such a blemished past on major decision making, a referendum should be mandatory. Administration and council would, again based on history, likely defer the decision to yet another expensive and useless outside study. To back up my claim we could use the former Pitt St. pedestrian mall as just one example (there were many examples to choose from).

  3. Take a good look at the dump that was Domtar’s little gift to Cornwall and nothing was done to clean up the land and they knew that the sheeple of Cornwall would continue to take the abuse hat everyone dishes out to them and someone was paid very well to keep quiet and look the other way. The St. Lawrence River is mighty polluted from one end to the other and not fit to swim in it at all.

    During the dredging of the St. Lawrence River I remember some people would swim in the water and they would come out full of sores and the sheeple were told not to swim in the river at all – the river is a huge health hazard even for drinking water or showering. There are more cases of cancer in Cornwall than anywhere else because of the high pollution rate and the pollution in the air will not go away for hundreds of years or more even though you don’t smell it it is still there.

    We know of a man here in Ottawa who is very very wealthy and had a gas station and wants to sell the land and he can’t because he has to clean up the land before he can sell it and that is what I call law. Here in Ottawa you don’t get away with the nonsense like what is done to Cornwall and I can say that what has happened to Cornwall is all done by design.

  4. I have to agree with Jules on Big Ben.

    But contrary to popular belief Cornwall does not have the highest cancer rates in Canada, not even in Ontario. From what I can glean Newfoundland / Labrador has the highest rates in Canada, Cornwall / Eastern Ontario (not including the greater Ottawa area) has an cancer incidence rate of 410. 4 per 100,000 people. Sudbury and area has a cancer incidence rate of 427.1 per 100.000. Northern Ontario, it seems, has an overall higher rate. I’ve included links to some of the info I gleaned below.

    As for the man trying to sell his former gas station land he is responsible for the clean-up, as are all former gas stations owners. How the city got saddled with the clean-up costs for First and Pitt that surprises me, but then again it doesn’t surprise me.




  5. Hugger there is a town that you mentioned one time on the Québec side somewhere across from Ottawa and I think that it started with the letter “S” and I cannot remember the name and it was one of the cancer areas.

    I am racking my brain trying to think up of what was on Pitt and First Street and I can only think just now that there was a vacant lot the last time I looked there but cannot remember what was there before.

    Yes it is the responsibility of the owner of the lot that was a former gas station and he is in trouble a lot with the City of Ottawa for many offences. This man has property all over the place and not a good person at all.

  6. Hugger1….if you are interested in cancer rates and accuracy then the information would be best obtained from an actuary. These professionals utilize the most up to date and least flawed information sources available.

  7. Jules….Shawville Quebec in the Pontiac. At one time Shawville and Cornwall topped the cancer rate list for all of North America. Statistics continue to change and other areas now may have surpassed the high rates for both these areas. That does not however translate into a reduction of cancer rates in Cornwall, only its ranking. (used by insurance companies to accurately identify financial risk).

  8. Mr. Oldham you hit the nail on the head Shawville is the name I was looking for thank you. Yes there are other towns that have a high cancer rate but Cornwall is one of the top ones. Just lately I have heard about Lac Mégantic where the explosion happened on the train and the fish in that lake are contaminated and people on the net are afraid to eat fish since the government is not honest and will put just about anything on the market.

    My daughter and I just came back from the store where she works every two weeks and is sick with a bad cold and one of the supervisors told her just now “don’t call in sick” that is how busy they are. The store is short just now of at least 4 cashiers since many are sick and it is a madhouse and we were gone for two hours and we just got in. The fruit and veggies look horrible and that will be a challenge making a meal out of that. Lots of sales at Food Basics and lots at 99 cents and you can get plenty of your pastas there including sauces, etc. at a reduced price. Jerry head to Food Basics store and look to see if they have a Mediterranean Isle in Cornwall and you can pick up some things there and that is what I do since it is cheaper than going to the Middle East Store and they have Chinese and Mexican food there as well (the real thing not the Americanized stuff).

  9. Federal officials may have known of chronically polluted river sediment along Cornwall’s waterfront many years ago. Approving buried storage tanks of calcium chloride at Cornwall’s harbour would assure continued ‘commercial’ operation at the harbour, protected by a ‘grandfather’ clause. The precedent of one form of ongoing commercial bulk transport at Cornwall opens the door to other possibilities . . . perhaps a barge of LNG connecting to a buried natural gas pipeline to Cornwall harbour . . or perhaps a buried oil pipeline to allow tanker barges to load or offload oil. With buried pipeline, no need for trucks to go to harbour . . . so lets ask the question, ‘How about a pipeline to carry liquid calcium chloride from harbour to truck terminal near Hwy 401 ???’

    Why stop at 1-pipeline when 3-pipelines may be possible ?? . . one pipeline for calcium chloride, one pipeline for natural gas and the third pipeline for oil. LNG can be stored in deep underground tanks while oil can be stored in aboveground tanks near the CN Rail line and pipeline.

  10. Author

    Harry it’s surprising that you haven’t commented on the Harbour lands secret deal much….

  11. Calcium chloride in underground pipelines? If a leak would happen God help everyone. The same goes for gas and oil in underground pipes and that is the big concern that governments everywhere have today. If any spill of any kind happens it contaminates the ground water table. I remember in Cornwall when there was a leak from one of the trains (one of the tanks that contained chlorine) and we ran the hot water in the tub and stayed there for quite some time because of the fumes outside. That is mighty poisonous and nothing to fool around with. Lac Mégantic in Québec have deformed fish in their lake and people are mighty concerned.

  12. There is a rezoning application notice in today’s CSF for the harbour lands. I wonder if it has anything to do with what the city / MCA is trying to do?

  13. So we’ve been promised a report on the harbour from city council soon. I wonder if that will include the details on the chem tanks lease. We were promised the details of the chem tanks lease when the city and MCA took over the harbour over a year ago. Will we see the details or will it be whitewashed again?

  14. Author

    Hugger it’s been washed since day one. It’s been a total conspiracy.

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