Hi­awatha gas sta­tion blocked again

OPP es­cort work­ers away from Hi­awatha Line con­struc­tion site, but de­vel­op­ers say the op­po­si­tion is all about fear of com­pe­ti­tion

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - TODD VANDONK

HI­AWATHA — Di­vi­sion con­tin­ued in Hi­awatha First Na­tion on Wed­nes­day as the chief, coun­cil, and band mem­bers, set up a block­ade to pre­vent con­struc­tion crews from build­ing a new gas sta­tion at 829 Hi­awatha Line.

The band’s for­mer chief is a part­ner in the new gas sta­tion. Those op­pos­ing the devel­op­ment fear en­vi­ron­men­tal and fi­nan­cial im­pacts, while the own­ers say they have ad­dressed those is­sues.

Con­struc­tion didn’t move for­ward Wed­nes­day be­cause Peter­bor­ough County OPP es­corted Tri-Land Ex­ca­vat­ing and Haulage crews out of Hi­awatha at about 11:30 a.m.

Ear­lier this month, the chief and coun­cil de­liv­ered a tres­pass­ing or­der to the con­struc­tion com­pany, pre­vent­ing them from con­tin­u­ing work.

“We are within our rights, and we are do­ing ev­ery­thing within all laws, reg­u­la­tions and rules,” said Ge­orgina Rogers.

Rogers has cer­tifi­cate of pos­ses­sion for 829 Hi­awatha Line and part­nered with for­mer Hi­awatha chief Greg Cowie and band mem­ber Lau­rel Shearer to open the gas sta­tion.

“It gives me ex­clu­sive use and own­er­ship to that prop­erty,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Rogers, ex­ca­va­tion on the prop­erty started July 15 and con­tin­ued for two weeks without an is­sue. A coun­cil res­o­lu­tion was passed two days later, plac­ing a mora­to­rium on any new busi­ness devel­op­ment or ex­pan­sion un­til a land code is com­pleted, she said.

“I am not go­ing to spec­u­late on that, and I am not go­ing to,” Rogers re­sponded when asked if she felt the mora­to­rium was passed to block the part­ners from open­ing the new busi­ness.

Rogers, how­ever, ques­tioned why it is that if the wet­lands were such a con­cern to the pro­test­ers, the chief and coun­cil waited un­til the end of the month to in­form band mem­bers of the mora­to­rium.

“Why didn’t they hand de­liver it on the 18th?” she asked.

De­spite the mora­to­rium, Rogers says there are no rules, reg­u­la­tions, by­laws or best prac­tices in place in Hi­awatha that re­quire the part­ners to get per­mis­sion from the chief and coun­cil or any­one else.

“We have all of our due dili­gence, re­search­ing, and get­ting all the pa­per­work that says that. I guess we have met all the re­quire­ments that are nec­es­sary to put a busi­ness in,” Rogers said.

Hi­awatha First Na­tion Chief Lau­rie Carr, who was front and cen­tre at the block­ade Wed­nes­day, said the part­ners did not seek any ap­proval or com­mu­nity in­put be­fore go­ing ahead with their plans.

“This whole process has been dis­re­spect­ful to chief and coun­cil, and the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“Why did they have to hide it from the com­mu­nity?”

Carr has re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence be­tween En­vi­ron­ment Canada and the builders, but says the in­spec­tor doesn’t have author­ity to shut down or keep the project go­ing.

In an Aug. 13 email pro­vided by Rogers, an En­vi­ron­ment Canada of­fi­cial from the wildlife di­vi­sion states that work could con­tinue on the site as long as it does not ex­ceed the area that has al­ready been dis­turbed as part of the con­struc­tion.

“Any new con­struc­tion that ex­ceeds the orig­i­nal site as ob­served should be put on hold un­til the fi­nal re­port has been re­ceived,” the email states.

Both sides have distribute­d fly­ers to band mem­bers to sup­port their cases.

Those against the gas sta­tion claim the con­struc­tion has al­ready caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to the wet­land area, while the builders say gas sta­tions don’t harm the en­vi­ron­ment.

“En­vi­ron­ment Canada re­viewed the site and the plans, and ap­proved the project,” the own­ers’ flyer reads.

Op­po­nents also say there will be a fi­nan­cial im­pact on the com­mu­nity and loss of em­ploy­ment for Hi­awatha cit­i­zens. Hi­awatha al­ready has a gas sta­tion, which is owned by Hi­awatha First Na­tion, at the Old Rail­road Stop restau­rant on the shore of Rice Lake. Gas sta­tion rev­enue funds in­fra­struc­ture and ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming at Hi­awatha.

Ac­cord­ing to the builders, the sta­tion will hire up to nine lo­cals at higher than min­i­mum wage, the whole­saler will or­ga­nize a holis­tic and recre­ational fund, along with a post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tional grant fund, and will be branded Gen7, rep­re­sent­ing the next seven gen­er­a­tions and their in­ter­est in sup­port­ing them.

“This is about the fear of com­pe­ti­tion, that’s all,” the own­ers’ flyer states.

Nei­ther side sees a res­o­lu­tion at this point.

“I don’t know how it re­solves it­self,” Rogers said.

Carr added that she doesn’t know if the own­ers will stop the project.

“If they don’t turn around, we will block the road,” she said.

‘‘ The whole process has been dis­re­spect­ful to chief and coun­cil and com­mu­nity. LAU­RIE CARR Hi­awatha First Na­tion Chief

PHOTOS BY TODD VANDONK PETER­BOR­OUGH THIS WEEK

Com­mu­nity mem­bers gather Wed­nes­day to block con­struc­tion work­ers from get­ting into the site where a new gas sta­tion is be­ing built in Hi­awatha.

Hi­awatha First Na­tion Chief Lau­rie Carr spoke with the OPP of­fi­cers who blocked con­struc­tion. She says the own­ers don’t have the right to build.

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