Simcoe County stands firm, refuses funding for indigenous role in archaeological study
Springwater DM Don Allen
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Simcoe County councillors have voted overwhelmingly once again not to provide funds so local First Nations and Metis can engage in consultation on an archaeological management plan (AMP).
On Tuesday March 13 2018, council voted 21-8 (a weighted vote of 80-37) against a motion put forward by Springwater Deputy Mayor Don Allen in a bid to reverse an earlier decision to eliminate capacity funding.
Cost of providing capacity funding has been estimated at $20,000, out of a $250,000 budget.
Allen argued that other municipalities provide such funding which will benefit various sectors in creating a consistent protocol for future consultation on land use matters – development, transportation and forestry among them.
“It is beneficial and builds trust and good relationships in the negotiations,” he said, noting that what is proposed is “not a blank cheque,” as any funding would be at the discretion of county staff.
“I believe not to do this is short sighted in assessing the cost-benefit and reflects negatively on us as a council,” Allen said.
The expenditure was recommended in a staff report, but at the February 13 2018 Committee of the Whole meeting, Ramara Deputy Mayor John O’Donnell, seconded by Wasaga Beach Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi, received the support of other councillors in stating that capacity funding would not be provided.
News of that decision prompted a flurry of criticism on the AWARE Simcoe website.
“Consultation is Law,” posted David Grey Eagle. “Intervenor funding must be allocated to First Nations.”
Grand Chief Keith Doxsee pointed to an omission from a consultation list: “Simcoe County are well aware of the MMFN (Montagnais Metis First Nation), having received letters from us on numerous occasions including letters sent directly to Warden Marshall.”
“This is simply unacceptable,” wrote Terri Richard and Jon Oelrichs. “First Nations are simply that. They were here first. The input and involvement of our indigenous communities, whose remains would be the subject of archaeological management, must be invited, encouraged and compensated. How can protocols be developed without consultation?”
The purpose of the county’s plan, to be developed by consultants Archaeological Services Inc. of Toronto, is to identify, protect and conserve significant county archaeological sites and develop a protocol for future engagement and consultation with indigenous communities that have an ancestral or traditional territorial interest in Simcoe County.
A staff report notes: “Given the importance of this study in guiding future development within the county, the project is following an accelerated process, with an estimated draft completion date of November, 2018. Once finalized, county planning staff will seek council approval in order to incorporate the AMP into the county’s Official Plan.”
There is no plan to identify significant built heritage at this stage.
Thus, the plan’s primary focus is on the pre-settlement heritage that is of vital interest to indigenous peoples, but generally of less importance to those who trace their roots to other lands and yet whose representatives on county council are the decision-makers on this matter.
Legislation and court decisions have increased consultation requirements for all levels of government, so indigenous groups are facing ever-increasing numbers of requests – without having sufficient staff or resources to seriously address the issues being raised.
The staff report refers to a similar mapping and protocol process undertaken by York Region in 2014 that involved 13 indigenous groups and took three years. All indigenous participants were compensated for travel, meals, and accommodation to ensure full involvement .
York and Durham regions also provided capacity funding for indigenous groups involved in an environmental assessment for the southeast collector sewer line in 2006, and the Upper York sewage solutions in 2009.
With regard to the Simcoe County consultation, the Metis Nation of Ontario has provided a budget of its costs of participation – $1,300 per meeting, with an expectation that no more than two meetings would be required, the staff report stated, adding that costs for the Huron-Wendat Nation would be similar. A total of 14 First Nations have been identified as potentially having an interest in Simcoe County.
Debbie Korolnek, the county’s manager of engineering, planning and environment, told the February 13 meeting that the expected cost is $500 to $1,300 per meeting per party and staff would evaluate each request on a case by case basis.
Warden Gerry Marshall told council Tuesday that following last month’s vote he had met with the chiefs of two First Nations – Rama and Beausoleil.
He said that the consultation workload for First Nations is “incredible.”
“This is not a $1,300 conversation, “ Marshall said, “it’s a $1 million conversation,” for just three First Nations – Rama, Beausoleil and Georgina Island
That’s why Marshall advocates partnering with First Nations to get the provincial and federal governments to provide proper consultation funding.
Allen expressed surprise that the $1 million figure was not part of the staff report. “I’d like to see more detail,” he said.
In response to a question from Tiny Mayor George Cornell, CAO Mark Aitken explained that first steps have been taken to meet with local First Nations and determine a course of action regarding Queen’s Park and Ottawa.
That will take some time, Aitken said. “It’s a separate issue from the archaeological study.”
But Ramara’s O’Donnell re-iterated his opposition to the county providing financial assistance. “I can’t see a hardship with a meeting in Simcoe County for the natives who are involved in Simcoe County,” he said.
Councillors voted in agreement.
“That Item CCW 18-058, dated February 13, 2018 regarding an update on the County’s Archaeological Management Plan project, be received; and
“That staff proceed with Archaeological Management Plan consultations, without the provision for consultation compensation; and
“That staff hold further discussions with upper levels of government and report back summarizing findings related to compensation practices and requirements of municipalities.”
HOW THEY VOTED
An amendment (moved by Allen, seconded by Bradford West-Gwillimbury Deputy Mayor Jim Leduc) would have deleted the words in bold, above. It failed so the resolution stands unamended, including the words in bold.
In support of providing funding) TOTAL 8 (37 weighted votes)
Springwater Deputy Mayor Don Allen, Innisfil Deputy Mayor Lynn Dollin, Springwater Mayor Bill French, Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, Bradford West Gwillimbury Deputy Mayor James Leduc, Midland Mayor Gord McKay, Collingwood Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson, and Tiny Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma
Against providing funding TOTAL – 21 (80 weighted votes)
Warden and Penetanguishene Mayor Gerry Marshall, Deputy Warden and Essa Mayor Terry Dowdall, Wasaga Beach Deputy Mayor Nina Bifolchi, Severn Mayor Mike Burkett, Clearview Deputy Mayor Barry Burton, Ramara Mayor Basil Clarke, Collingwood Mayor Sandra Cooper, Tiny Mayor George Cornell, Severn Deputy Mayor Judith Cox, Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau, Oro-Medonte Depity Mayor Ralph Hough, Oro-Medonte Deputy Mayor Harry Hughes, New Tecumseth Deputy Mayor Donna Jebb, Adjala-Tosorontio Deputy Mayor Doug Little, New Tecumseth Mayor Rick Milne, Ramara Deputy Mayor John O’Donnell, Tay Deputy Mayor David Ritchie, Midland Deputy Mayor Mike Ross, Adjala-Tosorontio Mayor Mary Small Brett, Wasaga Beach Mayor Brian Smith, and Innisfil Mayor Gord Wauchope –
Clearview Mayor Chris Vanderkruys, Essa Deputy Mayor Sandie MacDonald
Tay Mayor Scott Warnock declared a conflict of interest because his son works for a Metis organization