Planning Board seeks First Nation input on Manitoulin Official Plan

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

GORE BAY—While in agreement representation from First Nations on Manitoulin would have been a good addition to the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Manitoulin Official Plan, members of the Manitoulin Planning Board also agreed at a meeting last week that it would be inappropriate to alter the committee membership at this time. One reason is that all members of the general public had been invited to put forward their name to be a representative on the committee. However, no First Nations persons had done so.

Elva Carter, secretary-treasurer with the Manitoulin Planning Board, told members of the board at a meeting last week, “in discussing the Official Plan, there was a request from a First Nations person at one of our public open house meetings as to whether there is a First Nation person on the CAC committee or whether this could be done (now).”

It was explained that during a public open house in Little Current on the Official Plan, a request had been made from Elder Anna General of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation about a First Nation representative participating on the CAC.

“I think this would have been a good idea,” said Tehkummah reeve Gary Brown. “However, when this process was brought forward we had requested meetings with the First Nations, and representation, and we received nothing back.”

It was pointed out the planning board had gone through the process of advertising in the Island newspapers for those interested in being on the CAC committee to come forward, and no one from any of the Island First Nations had put their names forward. “It was an open process,” said Ms. Carter, who pointed out if the board were to allow for a First Nation representative on the committee at this time, “it might be setting a precedent and then other people may then want to be on the committee.”

Jack McQuarrie questioned if Ms. General would be representing all First Nations on the Island, and it was noted she had been the only First Nation person at the public open house meetings. “There is definitely time for First Nations input and discussion, but I’m not sure it is on this committee, not after it has already been set up.”

“We had advertised for people to apply for this committee. If we now take someone new after they have already held meetings it would be setting a precedent,” said Dan Osborne.

“I think we need input and discussions with First Nations on the Official Plan,” said Mr. Brown.

It was explained by Ms. Carter she had invited Ms. General to a regular meeting of the planning board. She also stated the CAC has already held two meetings, and that a meeting has been set up with First Nation representatives to discuss and get input on the Official Plan on September 13.

The general consensus of the board was that all members of the general public had been invited to put their name forward for the CAC, with advertisements being placed in the local newspapers, and the CAC members have not only been chosen but have met twice. It was moved by the board that while representation from the First Nations on the Citizens Advisory Committee would have been a good addition to this committee, it was considered inappropriate to alter this committee at this time.