Tue. Oct 26th, 2021

“No Algonquins go home with a pocket of cash. All the money goes to the AOO real estate company. The money is managed in trust and we process our affairs afterwards.”

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City politicians were reprimanded Thursday for asking certain questions about the partnership between Ottawa real estate group Taggart and Algonquins in Ontario to build a new suburb in southern Ottawa, where AOO representatives hinted they were disrespectful and unfair.

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Tewin development has been fought as reconciliation in action. This factor played a prominent role when council and committee members earlier this year decided to include 445 hectares to the new community in an extension of the urban boundary where other land proposed to be included in Kanata was removed.

The staff tasked with deciding which countries should be brought within the city limits to meet the city’s growth projections was not bullish on the Tewin site, but they did allow councilors to study it over five years to see if it could developed as a new community.

The majority chose not to wait, with Mayor Jim Watson celebrating the decision as an act of reconciliation, noting according to CBC Ottawa reporting that it would have been a “tougher sale” if the track had come from another developer.

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The Algonquin community, which is not part of the AOO, has been critical of Tewin’s embrace in the name of reconciliation at City Hall. It is their position that AOO does not represent genuine Algonquins.

The AOO represents 10 communities in land claim negotiations with the federal and Ontario governments, with one — the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation — being federally recognized.

The investigation into the Tewin plan was intensified this week with the publication of a CBC Ottawa story showing that the Taggart side of the Taggart-AOO project partnership owned the majority of that area. Prominent Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda questioned whether AOO was used as a veil, and to what extent “legitimate” Algonquin people would benefit from Tewin.

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“It is paternalistic, colonial, insulting and frustrating to constantly have to defend ourselves,” Algonquins of Pikwàkanagan First Nation chief Wendy Jocko said in an opinion piece in this newspaper, calling the partnership with Taggart “a shining example” of a truth and the Reconciliation Commission call for action that gives indigenous communities long-term benefits from private sector private development projects.

Algonquins from Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief Wendy Jocko says that Tewin
Algonquins from Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Chief Wendy Jocko says Tewin “is not just a business deal for the Algonquin people of Ontario.” Photo by Tony Caldwell /Postmedia

At a joint committee meeting Thursday on the adoption of the new official plan and supporting documents, including Tewin Earth, Jocko and Algonquin negotiators from other AOO communities spoke about the good that Tewin could do for Algonquin people and the cause of reconciliation and the key role that Algonquin’s values ​​would play a part in the creation of the community.

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“Tewin is not just a business deal for the Algonquin people of Ontario. Tewin reminds us that we are at home in our traditional area and assures us that we can rebuild our meaningful presence in these countries and in the social structure of the city, ”said Jocko.

Cyndi Rottenberg-Walker, an urban planner and partner at Urban Strategies working at Tewin, said the community would showcase innovation and sustainability, be transition-oriented from the start and be “a fundamentally different community than Ottawa has seen to date” in its integration with nature, density, mixture of uses and housing forms.

Tewin’s owners are also “fully committed” to paying for its infrastructure and services, including transit. Lack of water and wastewater infrastructure and the absence of nearby public transportation were among the reasons why urban planners gave the proposed Tewin area a low score as they considered areas for inclusion within the urban boundary.

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It was under question from Coun. Shawn Menard that the mood at the meeting changed.

He asked which part of Taggart and AOO first reached the other. Algonquin’s negotiating representative for Ottawa Lynn Clouthier said it was Algonquins who was able to acquire the land that reached out to Taggart, and when Menard asked who contacted whom prior to the land purchase, Clouthier called the issue “misplaced.”

“Is this a common kind of question you want to ask developers about their private business deal?”

Menard later returned to the subject, and Clouthier explained that the AOO had long assessed plots of land they could acquire, the Tewin land became available to the AOO, and they needed a partner.

“Because, as you know, our basic requirements have not been met. So basically our assets are only potential, ”she said.

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“We are fully competent to be able to manage our affairs here and we have had good advice, this is a joint venture and the details of the company are actually private.”

Coun.  Shawn Menard said he would know if Algonquins from Ontario thought Taggart would have had Tewin land included in the city boundary extension if it were not for AOO.
Coun. Shawn Menard said he would know if Algonquins from Ontario thought Taggart would have had Tewin land included in the city boundary extension if it were not for AOO. Photo by Errol McGihon /Postmedia

Menard said he did not question competence at all, but wanted to know if they thought Taggart would have included this land in the urban expansion plan if it were not for AOO. Clouthier said she could not respond to the hypothetical, and committee chairman Scott Moffatt began to agree.

Asked how individual Algonquins in Ontario would benefit from Tewin, Clouthier said it depended on what they would be able to achieve with their treaty and investment.

“No Algonquins take home a pocket of cash. All the money goes to AOO real estate company. The money is managed in trust, and we deal with our affairs afterwards. ”

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Provides recent reporting on the division of Tewin land ownership, Coun. Catherine Kitts asked how much of the land would benefit AOO and whether they had concerns with the packages included in the staff-recommended limit for development.

They do not, Clouthier said, explaining that any land owned by one of the partners is part of their partnership.

“Why is it important for you that you question the agreement we have entered into? Do we not have the right to make that agreement? ”

In emails to this newspaper, project media contact Jennifer Stewart said that 100 percent of the land owned by Taggart and / or AOO is part of a partnership and profit sharing, the content of which is confidential.

Coun. George Darouze, whose department will host Tewin, apologized to AOO representatives for “unplaced” issues, saying he would assure them that “not all committee members feel the same way.”

Menard jumped in and said he did not think disrespectful questions were being asked. “With respect, I would not agree,” Clouthier said.

“Exactly, maybe it was not for you … portrayed that way, but for others in the gallery it might be,” Jocko said.

The joint committee meeting on the new official plan is expected to continue on Friday.

With files from Jon Willing

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