Caledonia settlement riles some residents

In Caledonia, Ont., there's mixed reaction to the $20 million in compensation announced Friday by the province.

In Caledonia, Ont., there's mixed reaction to the $20 million in compensation announced Friday by the province.

The money is intended to settle a class-action lawsuit over the impact of aboriginal land blockades in the area that started in February 2006.

The protest began when members of the nearby Six Nations reserve began a blockade of a residential development called Douglas Creek Estates.

The province ended up paying the developer almost $16 million for the land, which was put in trust.

The deal, finalized in court on Friday, ends protracted litigation launched by residents and business owners in the southwestern Ontario community, located about 25 kilometres south of Hamilton.

The money will be divided among some 800 claimants, half of them residents, half companies that were affected by the protests.

Although people are accepting the offer, some remain dissatisfied.

Settlement called 'hush money'

Caledonia resident Donna Reid said the settlement is "basically hush money," a way to encourage residents to "shut up and go away." 

Reid's house overlooks the disputed land that remains occupied.

"It's just an absolute eyesore," she told CBC.

She said it's unlikely the $20-million figure will be enough to compensate everyone.

"That won't go very far," she said. "I mean there's a lot of businesses involved and a lot of residents involved."

Lisa Syrie owns a local music teaching business that lost clients by the hundreds after the blockades began.

"The business has been affected tremendously," she said. "The students that weren't native were afraid to come into town for lessons because they thought something bad was going to happen to them, so they stayed away."

Syrie said her business hasn't recovered, nor have those that relied on tourists visiting Caledonia

Craig Grice represents Caledonia on Haldimand county council.  

"I'm glad that the province has finally recognized the hardship that has been felt in Caledonia," he said.

Some businesses did not join the class-action lawsuit. Their separate claims against the government continue.