Court to hear fresh arguments against Zibi development

Windmill’s waterfront Zibi development is facing another legal challenge on Wednesday as indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal and four other individuals are asking the courts to reconsider their objections to the project.

A group led by Mr. Cardinal and lawyer Michael Swinwood has challenged the massive waterfront project slated for the downtown Chaudière and Albert islands on the grounds that the land is sacred to the Algonquin people.

In November the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) dismissed the challenge, saying that Windmill had practised due diligence in consulting with local Algonquin groups.

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Mr. Swinwood is now asking the courts to appeal that decision.

Mr. Swinwood said OMB chair Richard Makuch should have excused himself from the case because of a conflict of interest. He is also arguing that Mr. Makuch unfairly dismissed the group’s constitutional challenge that the development infringes on their freedom of religion and conscience.

“All of the evidence being put forward, particularly by Douglas Cardinal as an elder, is that the islands and the Chaudiere Falls is sacred,” said Mr. Swinwood. “That needs to be taken into account of the planning for development.”

Wednesday’s case is a motion to appeal, meaning it would not automatically grant a new OMB hearing, but would give permission for a new hearing to be considered.

Mr. Swinwood said the group is currently discussing other possible legal avenues if the OMB refuses to hear the case again.

Windmill partner Rodney Wilts said the developer has had to wait for the appeal process to go forward, and is looking forward to starting construction.

“We expect the appeal to be dismissed,” he said. “By all accounts planning for this project was sound and in alignment with all laws and regulations and official plans. We have consistently been winning all these challenges, they’ve been dismissed summarily.”

Mr. Wilts said the legal challenges haven’t dissuaded buyers either.

“The public has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic and I think they’ve recognized all the things we’ve done in terms of pushing the bar on sustainability, depth of public consultation, 22 per cent parks and open space,” he said. “That seems to be resonating much more deeply than Doug Cardinal’s persistent lawsuits.”

This article originally appeared on on March 8.

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