Alex Horkay Staff Reporter -Toronto Star The province has issued a stop-work notice at the site of archaeological work at an indigenous village in Vaughan, opening a six-month window for the Huron-Wendat Nation to find a way to permanently protect it from development.
“This is great news and it’s long overdue,” said Grand Chief Konrad Sioui. “We’ve been fighting this for a long time now. There’s lots of sorrow and pain within our nation.”
The property, south of Teston Rd. and west of Pine Valley Dr., is on land that comprises part of a 500-year-old indigenous village known as Skandatut. The area was once home to as many as 2,000 natives and contains remnants of a number of longhouses.
Archaeological work was being done as part of the process required to get approval for a possible development of about 204 single-family homes. They would be part of a subdivision that could add 1,300 homes to the surrounding area.
“At this point we’re certainly looking at our options in terms of fighting the order,” said John Alati, lawyer for Joseph Pandolfo, the property’s owner.
Although the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued Wednesday’s stop-work order, the work being done was “pursuant to a permit that the ministry issued and pursuant to a licence that the minister granted. The same ministry. So there’s that issue, which is certainly perplexing,” said Alati.
He said Vaughan’s official plan designating the land urban was approved in 2001 and the zoning applications and subdivision plans were filed in 2006.
David Donnelly, a lawyer representing the Huron-Wendat Nation, said, “We applaud the stop-work order, but it is the clear desire of the archaeological, environmental and First Nations’ communities that the minister invoke the Ontario Heritage Act to permanently protect Skandatut.
“If this was Don Cherry’s birthplace, would we even be having this debate?”
Mukunthan Paramalingham, a ministry spokesperson, said, “We have consulted with heritage experts from the Ontario Heritage Trust prior to issuing the stop order.
“The ministry will be using this pause to determine next steps and to continue to encourage dialogue and collaboration between all affected parties.”
Published Online Oct. 06, 2010: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/871918--province-halts-work-at-indigenous-site