This letter is addressed to the County of Grey, regarding the duty to consult and accommodate the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) regarding a proposed approval of a plan of subdivision.

Sydenham Square Inc. c/o Muzzammill Dewan (the Proponent) has proposed to develop five commercial buildings (multi-unit plazas) and three residential apartment buildings referred to as 2275 16th Street East (the Project) at 2275 16th St. E.

Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, collectively known as the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) are concerned about the ongoing impacts of residential and commercial development and associated infrastructure in SON Territory.

SON mapSON Territory (see map) includes the lands of the Saugeen (Bruce) Peninsula and approximately 1.5 million acres of land south of the Peninsula, as well as the surrounding waters.

This is a finite landscape shared by many different forms of life that are inextricable from SON’s rights, culture, ways of life, and the health of the lands and waters. SON has an inherent responsibility to protect and steward its Territory.

Over the last century, residential, commercial, tourism, agricultural and infrastructure development has proceeded in SON Territory without SON’s input, adequate consultation or SON’s free, prior and informed consent.

The proposed development of five commercial buildings and three residential apartment buildings will have an impact on SON’s rights, interests and its Territory by reducing the extent of natural habitat available to many wildlife species, including species of cultural importance.

These include white-tailed deer, which have been documented on the subject lands and which undoubtedly use the natural habitat within the subject lands and along the adjacent rail trail to the north and south as a movement corridor and feeding area.

This pattern of development cannot continue; the law requires that SON be meaningfully consulted and accommodated, before any further development is approved. Development that occurs within SON Territory cannot negatively impact SON rights and interests, which include a healthy environment.

SON’s Aboriginal and treaty rights, exercised by its members throughout SON’s Territory, are protected by Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution (Canada’s highest law).

This protection triggers the need for consultation and accommodation with SON whenever a development or activity is considered that could potentially harm SON’s rights.

In most parts of SON Territory, well over 50 per cent of natural lands have been significantly altered. The pressures of development are ongoing and increasing. Impacts occur at the scale of each individual project as well as on a cumulative scale.

The conversion of forests, wetlands, grasslands and other natural habitats into developed lands (e.g., subdivisions, roads, utility corridors and other built environments) has led to significant impacts on healthy ecological functions:

  • Loss of habitat connectivity and biodiversity
  • Declines in populations of plants and animals that are culturally important to SON
  • Reduced carbon sequestration and ecological resilience in the face of climate change
  • Introduction of invasive species)
  • Impacts to fish habitat (e.g., due to shoreline alteration)
  • Surface water and groundwater quality and quantity (which can occur as a result of stormwater management and the infrastructure required for drinking water and sewage management).

The combinations of these land and water related impacts are a major concern for SON, given the cumulative effects of multiple developments in a given area that typically occur over time. SON’s uses of and relationships with its lands and waters since time immemorial are impacted, as are, by extension, SON’s rights, interests, and responsibilities.

A significant proportion of lands along the recreational trail (the decommissioned railroad) that intersects with the eastern edge of the subject lands are naturally vegetated, or are naturalizing, forming a corridor of woodlots, hedgerows, wetlands and meadows extending for more than 25 kilometres from west of Chatsworth to Georgian Bay at the Hibou Beach.

Maintaining and expanding greenspace along this natural corridor, rather than developing it, would contribute to a healthier regional natural heritage system, providing benefits not only to wildlife, but to the mental, physical and spiritual health of current and future generations of the residents of Owen Sound and environs, as well as for the SON communities.

Through its Environment Office, SON has participated in some consultation with Sydenham Square Inc. c/o Muzzammill Dewan on 2275 16th Street East.

As an outcome of that consultation, SON has identified concerns relating to the loss of forest cover in the area, limiting wildlife habitat and movement corridors in a part of SON Territory that has already undergone immense alteration to agricultural and residential uses.

Certain conditions must be met and/or implemented prior to any proposed activity or construction proceeding.

SON expects the following accommodations to be incorporated into the conditions for the approval of a plan of subdivision (as per section 51 subsection 25 of the Ontario Planning Act) or to be incorporated into an agreement between the municipality and the proponent imposed as a condition to the approval of a plan of subdivision (as per section 51 subsection 26 of the Ontario Planning Act), depending on which is more appropriate for each.

SON requires the opportunity to review and verify that this is complete prior to withdrawing its objection to the Project.

Accommodation expectations of SON regarding the Project:

  1. Proponent to landscape with trees, shrubs and wildflowers that are native to SON Territory, and to provide SON with a complete list of species to be planted prior to landscaping activities (SON may be able to provide guidance on species selection)

  2. Proponent to install signage at trailheads leading to the rail trail from the development to educate local residents about:
    1. SON Territory, SON history in the area, and SON values, rights and responsibilities to the land
    2. Impacts of off-leash pets, invasive species, garden encroachment, and disposal of litter and compost in natural areas
    3. The benefits of gardening with native plants

Regardless of the above conditions being met, SON continues to have concerns about the cumulative impacts of building developments in SON territory, especially where natural habitat is being developed.

There needs to be a process in place between the county, municipalities, and SON to address cumulative impacts in SON territory at the earliest stages of planning. We look forward to these conversations.

Please note, SON is especially concerned about development close to current shorelines. SON does not support the development of any currently undeveloped shorelines in SON Territory for residential or other uses.

From here, SON expects PLANNING OF OWEN SOUND / COUNTY OF GREY to follow up regarding appropriate mechanisms to implement each of the above accommodations to ensure long term enforceability.




CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators