Cornwall, Akwesasne hire CFDC to manage ‘The Portlands’

In this June 2017, file photo, Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict and Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement talk during an event. The heads of council jointly announced on Monday, July 27, 2020 that the CFDC has been hired to manage The Portlands. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The corporate entities of Cornwall and Akwesasne controlling The Portlands will spend approximately $100,000 over the next year to manage its development.

The Portlands is the colloquial name given to the 16 acres (6.47 hectares) of land south and east of Harbour Road, sold to Cornwall and Akwesasne in 2016.

The City of Cornwall and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne held a news conference Monday afternoon to announce the agreement with the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC).

Under the CFDC’s Cross Border Partnership Program, it will go through a four-phase plan to set up an action plan, conduct research and analysis for land development and host community consultations, on the future development of the land.

While building is years away, the possibilities for the property include tourism, commercial, open space, parks and “consideration for residential” development.

“I think this also means for our two communities a real deepening of our relationship…we want to achieve this economic development but based on a strong, mutual respect and a deepening of the understanding that we have of our two communities and our cultures together,” Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement said.

As for choosing a project manager, Cornwall CAO Maureen Adams explained that the private corporations are not under the same rules as a municipality to tender services. “Within the two corporations, they have the ability to make those decisions…it’s not a decision of council…it’s a decision of the Cornwall Harbour Development Corporation…and I believe the same, it’s likely the same scenario with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.”

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict told Cornwall Newswatch that an outside manager was needed because there wasn’t someone with Cornwall or Akwesasne to move the project forward.

Benedict explained that it’s part of the reason why there hasn’t been much movement since the Memorandum of Understanding was signed in September 2014.

“When we started looking at what possibilities there were, the list is really slim of organizations or even persons who have experience or expertise of working with Cornwall and Akwesasne that has the intricate understanding. That’s when we looked at the CFDC,” Abrams said.

“They’re a non-profit. They are not a big boutique (firm) that comes in with some heavy prices attached to that and they’re local and they understand,” he said.

The corporations will use the $5.3 million they received from the federal government in June 2016 for management and operations of the port to pay the $100,000 management contract.

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