For Immediate Release - October 19, 2021
Lack of consultation undermines legitimacy of Minister Clark’s MZO
The Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council’s (“SNGREC”) Consultation and Accommodation Process (“CAP”) team were not properly consulted regarding a controversial 2 million square foot warehouse project slated to be in the Haldimand Tract near the Grand River in Cambridge, Ontario.
On August 27, 2021, Minister Clark issued an MZO to permit a suspected Amazon warehouse. The MZO was issued by Minister Clark despite the fact that the City of Cambridge did not consult with local residents or First Nations, as he had ordered.
The MZO was requested by the project developer – the Broccolini Group Real Estate Group (“Broccolini”). In their report to Cambridge City Council under Mayor Kathryn McGarry in April 2021, Cambridge Staff advised residents and Council that Broccolini had indicated that the MZO was needed to avoid “having to proceed through normal planning applications and public consultation process”.
City of Cambridge Planning Department Staff refused to meet with the CAP team, unless the Ministry was present. No meeting with Cambridge ever took place.
Lonny Bomberry, Director Lands and Resources for SNGREC wrote in a summary outlining lack of consultation to Blair Engaged’s legal counsel Donnelly Law that the CAP team “is very displeased that both the City of Cambridge and the propo- nent, Broccolini Real Estate Group have failed in their responsibility to consult with us to receive our free, prior and informed consent”.
The CAP team was able to secure a meeting with Broccolini, however this meeting did not come close to meeting the standards of proper consultation, which requires respectful dialogue, information disclosure and complete answers.
“We asked many questions about the proposed project. The answers we received were very vague, in some cases misleading and not helpful in allaying our concerns about the environmental impacts of the proposed project”, stated Mr. Bomberry.
The letter goes on to state that “Minister Clark used his power to grant an MZO in a manner inconsistent with the honour of the Crown.” According to Mr. Bomberry, the proposed development is situated in Block 2 of the Haldimand Treaty territory, which were never ceded outright, and are currently subject to litigation.
“The law concerning the Crown’s duty to consult is very clear and appears to have been violated when Council rejected Minister Clark’s request that everyone, includ- ing First Nations, be consulted”, said David Donnelly, counsel to Blair Engaged. “A judicial review of the Minister’s MZO would be consistent with the recent legal ac- tion in Simcoe County, where the Minister allegedly failed to consult First Nations before issuing an MZO”
, Donnelly added.
“Mayor McGarry and Cambridge City Council failed to consult First Nations there- by creating Council’s failure to ensure that a proper and constitutionally guaran- teed duty to consult and accommodate was completed” stated Alan Van Norman, Co-Chair of Blair Engaged.
“Mayor McGarry’s reading of the declaration of a land acknowledgement before each Council meeting is hypocritical, McGarry’s words are ‘hollow’, and her failure to ensure proper consultation speak to her true values re- garding Truth & Reconciliation”
, added Van Norman.
“Mayor McGarry rushed this developer’s proposal through Council for no obvious reason” said Mary McGrath, a resident of Blair,“and the community now learns that the Consultation and Accommodation Process team at SNGREC is also frus- trated with the lack of credible answers to their questions. The only fair and just solution at this stage is for Council to request that Minister Steve Clark rescind the MZO and re-start the application in accordance with the guidelines of the Planning Act of Ontario”.
“It is an open secret that the proposed development is an Amazon fulfillment centre,”
stated Tim Armstrong, Blair resident,
“and I hope that Jeff Bezos does not condone this project proceeding without guaranteeing First Nations constitutionally protected rights to consultation and so I expect his representatives in Canada to make a public comment to this effect.”
Efforts to contact Amazon have not resulted in the courtesy of a reply.