CEDI Community Graduates
CEDI’s Newest Graduates: Curve Lake First Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, the Township of Selwyn, Peterborough Economic Development, County of Peterborough, and Township of Otonabee South Monaghan (ON)
Senior Program Officer - CEDI - Cando
Over the course of three years, the Treaty 20 – Peterborough County CEDI partnership consisting of six partners: two First Nations, two townships, a County, and an economic development corporation has accomplished a lot together. Since this partnership has recently graduated, the CEDI team celebrates their accomplishments together and is pleased to share more information on one of their joint community economic development initiatives, an online GIS consultation tool.
Through a collaborative approach, this partnership’s Planning and Consultation Working Group, composed of staff from Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan, Hiawatha First Nation, Township of Selwyn, Curve Lake First Nation and the County of Peterborough, developed an idea for an online GIS consultation tool to assist local planners in determining consultation triggers for Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations.
The goal of the tool is not only to heighten and clearly demonstrate when consultation is required for Planning Act applications, but to also assist with the review capacity of staff of Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations by vetting those applications that do not require consultation.
The need for change in the consultation process was first identified by Julie Kapyrka, Consultation Liaison at Curve Lake First Nation. She shared grievances at the first CEDI Joint Workshop about how the First Nations were not on the County’s Official Plan Technical Advisory Committee and that the Planning Act stated that First Nations were to be consulted only if development was within 1 km of a First Nation. The First Nations wanted to be consulted and engaged on all development within the Treaty 20 area, as all the community partners are within the boundaries of Treaty 20.
The County has since formally extended invitations to Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations to join the County’s Official Plan Technical Advisory Committee and has embraced open discussion on relationship building and development with the CEDI partners.
“The relationship with the County was a little bit granular. That’s why the CEDI organizers thought it would be a good idea to bring the County into this process. And since then our relationship has flourished. We are on a first names basis. I can pick up the phone and call the Planners at the County anytime. The County and other municipalities that we are working with are stepping outside of the boundaries of The Planning Act and going beyond the bare minimum of what that document requires. It has completely transformed the relationship that Consultation (Curve Lake Department) has with the various townships in this area.”
• Julie Kapyrka, Consultation Liaison, Curve Lake First Nation
The GIS consultation tool was developed by Geocortex, an organization that specializes in designing and developing targeted GIS mapping applications. The tool itself is a web-based GIS application that resides in the County’s GIS system. All local Township Planning staff have access to the tool, and only planners have access to the tool as it holds confidential data that can’t be shared.
The tool itself allows the user to identify a property or a point on the landscape and run buffers around prescribed features that Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations have identified as having cultural/environmental significance. These include known archaeological sites, wetlands, lakes and rivers, to name a few.
If a buffer from one of the features is within a prescribed distance of the selected property or point on the landscape a “decision tree” document is then utilized to further assess and determine if consultation is required. At this point in time the decision tree is in a second draft and the Working Group is looking towards developing what will hopefully be the third and final draft of that document.
“In regard to economic development, I’d like to see more partnerships. We are in a beautiful area and I believe we can partner on quite a few items and make that successful for the First Nation and the townships. Those partnerships would be beneficial to everyone. It also creates the opportunity of knowing First Nations aren’t against development; what we are against is coming in and being told what is happening or just coming through our territory with no engagement process. When you work with First Nations it is about Free Prior and Informed Consent and Permissions. And that needs to happen. And that relationship needs to happen.”
• Chief Laurie Carr, Hiawatha First Nation
This work (the GIS tool and decision-tree) has been recognized by a larger audience, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI), and the Shared Path Initiative (SPI). The partnership is now being asked to share this innovative approach and best practices across Ontario. The timing of this work was also advantageous, as the Province of Ontario recently released a Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) for planners that makes municipal consultation with First Nations mandatory rather than recommended. Having worked collaboratively on consultation over the last three years, these partners are well positioned to play a leadership role in supporting others in this field.
On March 3rd this regional partnership gathered with the CEDI Team at Lang Pioneer Village in Keene, Ontario to celebrate their graduation from the Program. The afternoon was spent reflecting on their work together over the past three years and validating their plans for joint community economic development, tourism (specifically supporting entrepreneurship across their region) and expanding their partnership. Working Group members shared reflections: “the impact of our work together is better awareness of First Nation rights and the protection of those rights and willingness of municipalities to work together”, and, “to ensure our partnership is successful in the long-term, we need to stay committed, dedicate the resources required, plan collectively for the future and ensure it remains a collaborative effort, knowing that people and priorities will change over time”
The evening celebration started with a presentation of a Wampum Belt created for the partnership, with Jack Hoggarth sharing cultural learnings and protocols for how the partnership can take care of the Belt that will honour and represent their commitments to one another. This amazing joint learning event was followed by a ‘world premiere’ of four videos that tell the story of their partnership. The evening was topped off by sharing food and music by Gary Williams (past Chief and Council member at Curve Lake First Nation and CEDI Champion) and well known musician Missy Knott. This partnership is well launched and will be “rocking it” well into the future!
“We now involve First Nation members in the County and Township planning, application and decision. We seek their input and we should have been doing this all along. Better late than never. I certainly see it [CEDI program] as laying the path for the future. If we can continue in the spirit of co-operation, understanding and mutual respect, it will bode well for decisions which will need to be made in the future.”
• Mayor Joe Taylor, Township of Otonabee South Monaghan