The Ontario Divisional Court has given Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corp. the go-ahead for its Zibi development with its ruling to uphold the Ontario Municipal Board’s decision to allow rezoning on Chaudière and Albert Islands.
“The court is not persuaded that the appellant, Douglas Cardinal, has raised any issues of law that merit a full hearing before the board,” ruled Justice Charles T. Hackland, adding that the consultation process with the Algonquins of Ontario complied with bylaws covering appropriate planning.
“The consultation process was carried out fairly and the appellants presented no evidence that they were precluded from involvement in that process,” Mr. Hackland ruled.
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He also said the it was not the Ontario Municipal Board’s “function to adjudicate issues of Aboriginal title.”
With work on the Quebec side already underway Windmill partner Rodney Wilts said Thursday the group is looking forward to proceeding in Ontario as well.
“Not only will Zibi become a focal point of the city’s eco-district, but with nearly a quarter of the site designated as parks and public spaces, Zibi will restore access to the islands’ waterfronts and the Chaudière Falls for the first time in almost 200 years,” Mr. Wilts said in a statement.
Windmill signed an agreement to purchase the land from Domtar in December of 2013 and the project has been a contentious one ever since.
The appeal defeated in divisional court was launched by prominent aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal who argued the development threatened the Charter rights of the Algonquin people. He wanted the island declared a sacred site.
But Windmill has made a point of working with the Algonquins and many leaders, most notably Pikwàkanagàn Chief Kirby Whiteduck, are on board with the project which will see jobs created for Algonquin trades workers.
Windmill has also set up the Memengweshii Council, an Algonquin advisory body guiding the project on issues of Algonquin-Anishinabe interests.
Council member Josée Bourgeois said it was “refreshing” to work with a private developer to make sure the project not only creates Algonquin jobs but reflects its culture.
“I can’t recall another instance where this has been possible,” Ms. Bourgeois said in a statement.