Court rules in favour of Kahnawake in Highway 30 land transfer dispute

Quebec's Superior Court ruled in favour of Kahnawake Wednesday in dispute over a portion of land bordering Highway 30 and four South Shore municipalities.

Four South Shore municipalities launched the suit in 2013 after land was transferred

Kahnwake Grand Chief Joe Norton says he's happy with Quebec's Superior Court decision to return to the land to the Mohawk Council. Four South Shore municipalities launched the lawsuit in 2013 over the portion of land bordering Highway 30. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec's Superior Court ruled in favour of Kahnawake Wednesday in a dispute over a portion of land bordering Highway 30.

Four South Shore municipalities that surround Kahnawake territory launched the suit in 2013 after they objected to the Quebec government transferring the land to the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake.

The provincial government said the land had been Mohawk territory all along. 

Châteauguay, St-Isidore, St-Constant and Ste-Catherine claimed their municipal taxes paid for infrastructure on the five parcels of land near the highway that total about 500 acres. 

The court made the judgment Wednesday.

"Though we're obviously really happy about the news, we have to analyze the decision and plan our next steps," Grand Chief of Kahnawake Joe Norton said in a statement.

The portion of land the government handed back to Kahnwake in 2013 borders Highway 30 and is approximately 500 acres. (Radio-Canada)

'A step forward'

The land was originally zoned for agriculture, and then in 1990 was expropriated by the provincial government in order to building Highway 30. 

 In 2012, the land was rezoned for commercial use after the new highway was completed, making it very valuable. 

Then the land was handed over to the federal government so it could be transferred to Kahnawake.

The South Shore municipalities claim they were not consulted when the government made the decision.

The Superior Court judge ruled that the government could have consulted the municipalities, but wasn't legally obliged to. 

"All the members of the [Mohawk] Council [of Kahnawake] that I spoke with are satisfied," council chief policy advisor Winona Polson-Lahache told Radio-Canada. 

"It's a step forward, but there's still a lot of work to do for us to be able to use those lands."

With files from Radio-Canada