Dismantle illegal structures in Caledonia: Barrett

Oct. 11, 2013

QUEEN’S PARK – Unsatisfied with the answer he received to a question about the illegal burger shack in Caledonia, MPP Toby Barrett again raised the matter in the Ontario Legislature this week.

The burger shack is on provincial land and is operating without approvals from the health unit, fire department or building code. Barrett raised the matter in the Ontario Legislature after the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health listed the Minister of Infrastructure and the burger shack owners in a contempt order. Although that charge was recently dropped, Barrett was not satisfied with the answer he received from Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer, who said he couldn’t answer because the matter is before the courts.

“When will you dismantle and remove these two illegal structures,” Barrett asked. “They shouldn’t even be there.

“Why are there different sets of rules for the owners and operators of the smoke shack and the burger shack compared to other businesses in town, busiensses that have to compete with these tax-free enterprises?”

Barrett also said the federal government has repeadly insisted there is no valid land claim on any property adjacent to Highway 6.

In his answer, Zimmer said the province is waiting for the federal government to return to the negotiating table.

“The bottom line, speaker, is that people wonder why it has come to this: a number of illegal shacks, the burned-out tractor trailer, dismantled power towers,” Barrett said. “Public health rules, zoning and building permits are the issues at present. The bottom line is that these buildings should never have been built. The question is, when will this government remove them?”


For more information contact:
MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446

Ontario Legislature
Official Hansard
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member for Haldimand–Norfolk has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given on October 3, 2013, by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. The member has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and the minister or the parliamentary assistant may reply for five minutes.

Mr. Toby Barrett: It was around July 11 or 12 of this year that it became known that the illegal burger shack on MTO property outside Caledonia was operating without approvals from the health unit, and was apparently operating without zoning, fire code and building code approvals from Haldimand county. It has been in the court, most recently last Thursday.

My first question is, who asked for the contempt of court charge to be dropped against the Minister of Infrastructure? How did that happen? The Ontario government has been involved with the illegal use of this provincial MTO property for a number of years now because of the illegal smoke shack—for example, attempts to construct a second entrance directly to provincial Highway 6.

My question is, has the Ontario government granted any approvals to these two illegal businesses, or does silence or turning a blind eye mean consent? Question: When will you dismantle and remove these two illegal structures? They shouldn’t even be there.

Another question is, has there been federal government involvement? We know that the federal government has indicated, on a number of occasions, that there is no valid land claim on any of the property adjacent to Highway 6. Does the provincial government not agree with that statement, nor with similar findings in the courts?

Why are there different sets of rules for the owners and operators of the smoke shack and the burger shack compared to other businesses in town, businesses that have to compete with these tax-free enterprises? Do the rules vary depending on whether such businesses are on provincial land compared to private land, compared to reserve land, or do all of the rules apply but are not enforced because of perhaps intimidation, edicts from on high or the discretion of the officers? I know there may not be time to answer all of these questions, so I formally request some written responses.

People do ask me, who gives the right for activists on MTO property to breach the law, including these public health codes and tobacco legislation? It’s bad for business. It’s bad for tourism. This whole mess is right at the southern entrance to town. It’s bad for the credibility of government at the municipal, provincial and federal level. Why the abdication of responsibility?

Going back to July 12, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit inspectors, accompanied by OPP, served a closure order on this burger shack. Haldimand county public works staff assisted in installing a sign at the driveway. After they left, the sign was removed by the occupiers. When nothing changed, the medical officer of health sought and was successful in receiving a cease and desist order on July 22. That order also names the Minister of Infrastructure, who, I note, did not step aside while this matter was before the court.

Need I remind anyone here of the standards for food handling? We know of the church groups and the new regulations that meant that they could no longer bake pies at home kitchens that weren’t inspected. Also, there was no hesitation in shutting down food booths at the CNE. Why is Haldimand county any different?

Last Thursday, the matter went before a judge in Brantford. The contempt of court charge against the Minister of Infrastructure was put aside. The minister was also removed from the injunction. Again, who asked that the contempt charge be dropped? People are asking me, why was the minister removed from the injunction?

This doesn’t mean the government is off the hook. Last Thursday, the government of Ontario was added to the list of respondents in this case, and it could be back before a court if the owner does not make improvements. Again, should the government not be responsible? Why is the government not responsible for what occurs on its own property?

If I had more time, I would talk a bit more about smoke shacks and so many other perceived injustices.

The bottom line, Speaker, is that people wonder why it has come to this: a number of illegal shacks, the burned-out tractor trailer, dismantled power towers. Public health rules, zoning and building permits are the issues at present. The bottom line is that these buildings should never have been built. The question is, when will this government remove them?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has five minutes.

Hon. David Zimmer: I note this is a late show, and the reason given is because the member opposite was dissatisfied with my answer to his question posed last Thursday. I have to say that after I received the notice that he was dissatisfied, I went and made arrangements to watch the exchange again, his question and my answer, and I have to say I was perfectly satisfied with the answer.But anyway, be that as it may, let me say to the member again, as I did last Thursday, that the issue of the unlicensed food stand is currently before the courts. It was before the court last Thursday, the Superior Court in Brantford.

I found out that what happened on Thursday in the court proceedings was that there was an indication from the parties to the presiding judge that they were making some progress in trying to resolve the issue. Accordingly, the judge, and rightly so, adjourned the matter to a later date some time at the end of this month, the end of October. So I’m not going to comment on that case; it is still before the courts.

I would, however, like to correct the record and make it quite clear that there is no contempt order being sought against the Minister of Infrastructure. I can tell you that, on September 27, 2013, on the consent of all the parties, the court set aside the Superior Court injunction against the minister—and I want to stress the consent of all of the parties to that proceedings.

Let me just say without commenting in any way on the case before the court, just to give you some other information on things that are happening over at Six Nations with regard to various issues over there, that it’s clear that these issues and a host of other issues that the member has referenced run much deeper. Many of them are beyond Ontario’s power to address alone.

Participation from the federal government is required in order to resolve a number of these issues underlying the Six Nations claims. Negotiations at the main table have been on pause since October 2009. However, our government remains hopeful that Canada will return to the negotiating table. It’s the federal government that has been absent from the negotiations. The claims brought forward by the Six Nations can be resolved in a way that benefits the members of all communities involved if we can get all levels of government back at the table.

In the meantime, Ontario continues to work with Six Nations, the surrounding municipalities, Brantford and others, Haldimand and the development community to find some practical ways of moving forward with the unresolved claims by Six Nations. This includes strengthening working relationships and fostering community reconciliation.

In the midst of this, it’s important that we do not lose sight of the significant progress Ontario is making in its relationship with First Nations. We are acting upon the recommendations of the Ipperwash inquiry in the policies and programs that we are developing.

We are continuing to resolve claims by First Nations across this province. We are fostering community reconciliation. We are investing in people and infrastructure, whether it’s building consultation capacity through our New Relationship Fund or supporting community and business centre development through our Aboriginal Community Capital Grants Program.

We are investing in health care, education and other vital social programs, and we are taking a stand on social issues that are of critical importance to the aboriginal communities.

In conclusion, our government is committed to working with First Nations partners and all levels of government to overcome challenges and find new opportunities. We’ve created jobs, improved educational outcomes and promoted economic sustainability for First Nations. Our commitment to improving the quality of life of First Nations communities in Ontario is tireless.

I just want to circle back now to my first comment. The technical answer, the proper answer to the member’s question, is that the question that he raised and he asked about was dealing with matters that are before the Superior Court. They were before the Superior Court last Thursday. The matter has been adjourned. It’s coming up in late October. It’s still before the courts, and I’m not prepared to comment on that particular proceeding.