Douglas Cardinal files appeal with OMB over Domtar redevelopment

Architect Douglas Cardinal has filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board over development at the Domtar lands on the Albert and Chaudière islands.

Architect says lands should be made accessible to public with an aboriginal focus

The 15 hectares of land include the former Domtar industrial area on Chaudière Island. (Google Maps)

Architect Douglas Cardinal is one of five people who have filed appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board over development at the Domtar lands on the Albert and Chaudière islands.

Specifically, Cardinal and the others are appealing the city's approval of rezoning applications made by Windmill Developments, which is planning a mixed use community for the old paper mill site on the Ottawa River.

Cardinal, who designed the Canadian Museum of History, said the lands shouldn't be turned over to private development.

He said the site was once a popular natural tourist attraction and indigenous spiritual meeting place, and that it was turned over to industry decades ago for the public good.

Now that the industry's use of the lands is done, Cardinal said they should be returned to public use, with a focus on indigenous history and culture.

'It could be such a powerful place of reconciliation,' architect says

The site could feature peace and reconciliation centres, Cardinal said, which were part of the plans he had been working on with Algonquin elder William Commanda, who died in 2011.

"It could be such a powerful place of reconciliation and ... a good example of how indigenous people and people that came to this land can work together in the future in peace and harmony, work together as partners to build a new future," Cardinal said.

Every country has an embassy in Ottawa, Cardinal said, but there's no place in the city with a dedicated aboriginal presence.

His appeal is based on his claim that the city doesn't have title to the land, which he said is unceded Algonquin territory.

Larry McDermott, Richard Jackman, M. Lindsay Lambert and Romola Treblicock (Thumbadoo) have also filed appeals.

The city declined to comment on matters before the OMB.

'We've tried to engage quite broadly,' Windmill says

Rodney Wilts, a partner at Windmill Developments, called the appeals "unfortunate" but "not altogether surprising."

"Clearly we think it's unfortunate," he said. "We've tried to engage quite broadly. We've had thousands of conversations with different individuals, including, of course, representative of the Algonquins of Ontario, Kitigan Zibi and many others."

He said that about 22 per cent of the development plan is slated for public use, including "almost all" of the shoreline.

The next step for Windmill will be to reach out to the appellants to see if productive conversations can be had, and failing that, to defend the appeals, Wilts said.