I don't very often post a newspaper article in its entirety... but if you actually have any vestigial illusions that we are living in a free, democratic, capitalist country... do read on...
A Kingston-based realtor says construction crews will return to property owned by his family in Deseronto next week, despite a confrontation with natives there days ago.**********
Emile Nibourg told The Intelligencer he plans to have crews return to the site April 21 to finish cleaning brush there, even though one of his employees was approached by Mohawks who questioned what he was doing on what one native termed "my" property. The situation quickly escalated to involve "40 to 50 native warriors," as Nibourg called the men, members of the Ontario Provincial Police and Nibourg and his father.
The event ended peacefully when Nibourg, his father and the employee agreed to leave the property with police.
Nibourg has since written a letter to the area's MP and MPP, explaining his frustrations and promising a crew of "25 to 30 guys" will return to the site next week.
"The problem is we have legal ownership to it, but the government doesn't seem to want to do anything," Nibourg said. "They don't even want to talk to us."
Nibourg said it is frustrating that his father - who holds title to the land - cannot access it. In a letter to Prince Edward-Hastings MP Daryl Kramp, Nibourg said "between property taxes, interest and other expenses with the property we are spending in the vicinity of $100,000 per year."
The property in question is partly in the Town of Deseronto and partly in the Town of Greater Napanee. The property is approximately 18 acres with 1,300 feet of waterfront.
Nibourg said his father's company, Nibourg Developments, was ready to develop the property two years ago, but when land claim disputes erupted surrounding the Culbertson Land Tract, plans came to a halt. Two years later, he said, the waiting continues.
"What am I supposed to do? We have a very, very large sum of money tied up in that property and we own it, but we can't do anything with it? We're entitled, as owners of that land, to do work there," he said.
Deseronto Deputy Mayor Clarence Zieman said he had not heard of Nibourg's intentions to return to the site next week, but expressed concern about a potential showdown.
"That does not sit well," he said after hearing Nibourg's plan. "I don't disagree with him, it's his property."
Zieman also sympathized with Nibourg's frustrations over the government's claim that it is business as usual. He said it obviously is not and pointed to the planned expansion of the Parkview Apartments senior complex as an example. A protest disrupted a site meeting the County of Hastings held at the Deseronto home on March 31 for contractors interested in bidding on repair work.
The county opted not to proceed with any work for fear of causing further protests.
"We cannot do any development at all until this thing is settled," Zieman said. "Mr. Nibourg has a nice piece of property that he wants to develop. It would help our town and it wouldn't hurt the Mohawks one iota."
But the deputy mayor said if Nibourg stays true to his word and sends a crew to the site Monday, "it's going to end up as a major problem."
Nibourg has a meeting scheduled later this week with Insp. Patt Finnegan, detachment commander of the Napanee detachment of the OPP, to discuss the situation, but said he has already made plans for crews to revisit the site.
Such moves have cost developers in the past.
It's been just over a year since Mohawk protesters erected a make-shift village on land owned by Thurlow Aggregates owner Terry Kimmet. Thurlow Aggregates is the Deseronto Road quarry business that spurred several demonstrations last year after protesters learned it was operating on disputed land. A group of Mohawks are blocking entrance to the site, vowing to stay until its licence is revoked.
Nibourg said he's hoping the same doesn't occur on his property.
"I really hope it doesn't," he said, adding he has no plans in place in case his actions Monday erupt into a similar circumstance.
In the interim, Nibourg has mailed his letter to government representatives and has met with Kramp to discuss his concerns. He said the federal government is telling everyone it is "business as usual" but that's far from the truth.
"We do not have clean title. We do not have the luxury of business as usual. We don't even have the right to go onto our property," he said in his letter.
Nibourg said he is not blaming the Mohawks. He said the federal government has accepted the claim as valid giving the natives the right to say the land is theirs but, he argued, so does his father. The government must take action to alleviate the "volatile situation."
"If it's their land, fine. They could come talk to us and compensate us but for the government to say it's business as usual... It's not."
Though Kramp's office said the MP was not available for comment, his legislative assistant, Jessica Maga, said Kramp is looking into the issue.
"He is working on it. It's an important file and he's giving it a lot of attention," she said.
MPP Leona Dombrowsky was not available for comment on the matter.
FROM THE COMMENTS:
"The government of Upper Canada granted ownership of +/-800 acres to John Culbertson (a part Mohawk) in 1837. Culbertson was the grandson of John Desorontyon - the Mohawk chief to whom the entire eastern land grant to Mohawks was made."**********
"Culbertson's descendants subsequently sold the land to others for currency. And now it is being claimed back (an action not being led by other Culbertson descendants but by third parties of indistinct genealogy)."
"If Culbertson did not have clear title to sell the property, than a fraud was committed when he did so."
RELATED: Going anywhere this May?
Shawn Brant has something to say about that...
"Now we're in another nose-to-nose situation. What I've been hearing from the communities and leadership is that people who stood relatively quiet last year, like B.C., are committing big-time to this initiative.**********
"Certainly locally, ones that demonstrated and held rallies are talking about stepping it up and maybe going out on to the highways and railways."
LAST WORD: Visit beautiful Deseronto...
The town the law forgot.*