| Aug 10, 2006


Feature Article - August 10, 2006

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Feature Article - August 10, 2006

PineLake residents meet with AAFNA

byJeffGreen

The August long weekend is the prime of the summer cottage season, but on Saturday August 5 about 35 residents of Pine Lake , near Ardoch in North Frontenac Township , put their summer fun on hold, starting their weekend with a dose of Aboriginal politics

In a meeting with the leadership of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation (AAFNA) at the Ompah Hall, Pine Lake dwellers had their first public opportunity to air their opinions about AAFNA’s building project at a public boat launch on Pine Lake .

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At the start of the meeting, Pine Lake resident David Rose gave the floor to AAFNA’s communications team leader and co-chief Robert Lovelace, who made a short presentation outlining the history that led up to the construction project, and said AAFNA would like to work with the residents of Pine Lake in a neighbourly way as they move forward.

“You didn’t start off that way when you didn’t tell us what you were doing until after you started. We got a notice from you after the chainsaws and bulldozer had done their work,” said one resident. “That didn’t exactly put us in the position to co-operate with you. It would have been in your best interest and our best interest to meet before the bulldozer went to work.”

“We put you in that position, and I apologise for that,” Lovelace responded. “We really didn’t know what the MNR was going to do when we started. We thought they might intervene as soon as we started. They didn’t, as it turned out, but we didn’t know that, and that’s why we gave less notice to Pine Lake residents than we would have liked.”

Lovelace then reported that meetings have been taking place between AAFNA and the MNR about the Pine Lake project. “We are still in negotiations with the MNR. They are not going very well. We had hoped for a mutual recognition agreement,” he said.

As reported in recent editions of the News, AAFNA began clearing land for a community centre and Pow Wow grounds at Pine Lake on July 7th. AAFNA had met with North Frontenac Council reps in late June to inform them of their plans, and with officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) on June 27th.

The MNR oversees the land where the building site is located in their role as administrators of “Crown land”, and told AAFNA that they would need a land use permit to build there.

The status of “Crown land” in all of the territory within the Ottawa and Mattawa river basins has been the subject of the Algonquin/Canada land claim process that has been underway for almost 15 years, and there never has been a treaty between the Algonquins and Canadians ceding that land to Canada.

Calling the land “Algonquin land”, AAFNA sees no reason to seek MNR permission to build on it. “We will nonetheless meet or exceed building code and environmental standards with this project, and we welcome the MNR to work with us,” said Bob Lovelace, “ Why Pine Lake ?” asked David Rose, expressing the views of many of the people at the meeting. “It is a beautiful lake, but it’s a small lake.”

“It is a beautiful lake,” concurred Lovelace, “and we’ve been looking at Pine Lake and other locations for six years. The choice of Pine Lake was made this spring. We know the decision was made without consulting you, but remember this is a reality we have been living with for many, many years.”

An artist’s conception of the community centre had been prepared and was available for viewing at the end of the meeting, and Robert Lovelace said that architect’s drawings are being prepared.

“Don’t you think all of these things, and a site plan and septic plans, should have all been done before you began clearing the land?” David Rose said. “Why not halt the project right now, and do a proper environmental assessment to make sure this won’t harm the lake.”

AAFNA did not agree to his request, but it was proposed that a committee of residents be set up to meet with AAFNA on an ongoing basis, and Lovelace said AAFNA would be pleased to work with the committee.

“The township has appointed the mayor, Ron Maguire, who is here today,” Lovelace said pointing to the back of the hall, “and he has come to one of our meetings, which are open to all. We want to work with the township and the residents of the lake, and the surrounding area.”

Some of the surrounding residents didn’t seem very open to working with AAFNA at Pine Lake . Glen Manion, a contractor who lives at the corner of Ardoch Road and Hwy. 506 not far from Pine Lake, said that on July 7th AAFNA supporters were parked right on Ardoch Road and had been harassing him as he drove his large work track past the site several times, in the course of transferring materials during his work day.

“That’s a public road I was using. It’s a major road. They weren’t only parked there, they were leaving their doors open to the road. And then they started taking pictures of the sign on my truck, and I ended up with the OPP at my door. I supported you in the past, but not this time,” he said.

Many of the Pine Lake residents expressed concerns over the future. “You say you are going to build this hall and Pow Wow grounds in a safe way, and I appreciate what you have said here today, but in 10 years you many not be here and someone might say - now we want to use more land for another purpose - and we will again be wondering what is going to happen to our lake,” said one of the residents.

“It’s a very small, very quiet lake,” said another, and I don’t think a building that can hold 100 people built so close to the lake is a good idea. I don’t want this on Pine Lake . I just don’t.”

Although nothing was resolved at the meeting, it provided an opportunity for people to speak directly about their concerns. It is unclear what the next steps will be, but there was talk of a further meeting among Pine Lake residents.

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