Montreal

Disputed Kahnawake territory at centre of plans for Highway 30 development

The Grand Chief of Kahnawake says Quebec's plans for an economic development corridor — running through disputed land — reminds him of the events leading up to the Oka Crisis.

Pierre Moreau, municipal affairs minister, says government has plans to consult Mohawk community on Bill 85

Bill 85 proposes to develop two logistics hubs on either side of Montreal, and to link the two hubs by creating an economic development corridor along Highway 30. (CBC)

The Grand Chief of Kahnawake says he's outraged that his community was never consulted on plans for development along a highway that runs through traditional Mohawk territory.

Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Norton is comparing the situation to the events leading up to the Oka Crisis in 1990.

A bill tabled at the National Assembly last week proposes to create an economic development corridor along Highway 30 on Montreal's South Shore, as way of connecting two logistics' hubs — one in Les Cèdres, west of Montreal, and one in Contrecoeur, east of Montreal.

We're not going to stand for it.- Kahnawake Grand Chief Joseph Norton

Highway 30 runs through land that is in a legal grey area and is already at the centre of an ongoing dispute.

On top of that, Norton says his community has yet to be consulted on Bill 85.

"We were never involved. We were never consulted. We were never asked," Norton said.

He thinks the province and the local regional municipality — the MRC de Roussillon — are trying take control of Mohawk land by going behind his community's back.

Legal grey area

Part of Highway 30 runs through land that is south of Kahnawake and was once Mohawk territory.

It's been up for dispute since the highway was completed several years ago.

We will have discussions ... to make sure that the people of Kahnawake will have their fair share of economic development.- Minister of Municipal Affairs Pierre Moreau

According to Norton, the province was supposed to return control of much of that land to the Mohawk community once the highway was finished.

But local mayors say the provincial government said it would give money to Kahnawake, not land.

The land is now tied up in a lawsuit involving the MRC and local municipalities.

And in the meantime, it technically remains in the hands Quebec's Ministry of Transport.

Comparison to Oka Crisis

Norton said the whole thing reminds him of the events leading up to the Oka Crisis.

"We're not going to stand for it," he said.

Bill 85 was tabled on Friday by Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau.

Moreau said he doesn't think the community of Kahnawake has anything to worry about.

"I don't think that they have to worry about it," he said, adding that plans for discussions with the community are already in the works.

"I think that we will have discussions in the next coming weeks to make sure that the people of Kahnawake will have … their fair share of economic development in the area," he said.

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