CORNWALL – A public meeting Tuesday night on Cornwall’s plan to create a holding company for the future ownership of the harbour lands drew two people.
The Cornwall Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) was holding the meeting to create a municipal corporation in order to hold the land jointly in a 50-50 ownership with Akwesasne.
There were two people in the audience – Glen Grant and Elaine Kennedy.
Grant asked a couple questions about the makeup of the board for the corporation and the terms of reference.
The committee also heard that negotiations between Cornwall, Akwesasne and federal government are expected to begin this week.
Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy revealed the plans to transfer the 16 acre harbour land ahead of a March 31 federal government-imposed deadline.
After the public spoke, it was time for councillors to weigh in.
An animated Coun. Mark MacDonald told the committee the city stands to make a “huge amount of money” from this deal. “This is a turning point for the City of Cornwall.”
“This isn’t a situation where we should start dictating,” Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said, suggesting MacDonald was jumping the gun by speaking about what the city planned to do with the land.
“It’s not a situation where it’s going to make the city millions and millions and millions of dollars,” the mayor said. “Don’t create this grandiose thing that’s not there,” he said.
Coun. David Murphy suggested more public consultation is needed because “a lot of people don’t know what we’re doing.”
Economic Development Manager Mark Boileau said the inquiries he has received about the harbour land is more about land use than about creating the corporation.
Coun. Andre Rivette emphasized his concern about land use, suggesting he wanted to avoid a situation where Akwesasne would import goods from China through a tax-free zone.
The veteran councillor became upset when O’Shaughnessy laughed at his suggestion.
“If Mr. Mayor knows it all, then what the hell are we going here?” Rivette snapped.
Later in the evening, a somewhat calmer Rivette said he holds nothing against Akwesasne but it concerned about making sure city residents are informed on what’s going on during the land transfer.
“We are not in the driver’s seat … (the federal government is). Those talking about land use, speculate all you want,” Coun. Elaine MacDonald said.
“There are no condos going up there next year. There will be very little development next year,” Coun. Denis Carr said. He suggested one of the first things he would like to see it the five year lease on the waterfront tanks.
Coun. Claude McIntosh said he hasn’t worked with a better team than Akwesasne. “We have to acquire it first. I’m very optimistic, very bullish of it. I’m really impressed with the way it’s going.”
No action was taken by PAC as it only had to host the public meeting as part of federal government’s requirements for the land transfer.
Will Akwesasne create corporation?
It’s unclear whether Akwesasne will create a municipal corporation to jointly hold the land.
“The Mohawk Nation is not a municipality, so we can confirm that it is not held to the requirements of the Municipal Act like Cornwall is. However, we do not know what federal requirements, if any, might apply to the Mohawk Nation in this circumstance,” said Ministry of Municipal Affairs spokesman Conrad Spezowka in an email to Cornwall Newswatch.
The MCA released the following statement to CNW when asked whether the First Nation would be creating a corporation.
“The MCA is answerable to its Membership, and as such, a meeting of its Membership has been held, and updates to our community on the divestiture will be ongoing until an agreement is finalized, and going forward as the partnership evolves. The MCA has communicated its Membership all the necessary steps to ensure that this partnership with the City of Cornwall is a successful one,” said spokeswoman Ashley Tarbell.