Niagara Reinforcement Line at Highway 6 Bypass (Photo by Jim C Powless Turtle Island News)
By Lynda Powless and Justin Lethbridge
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER-The Six Nations Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC) says it is sending its A6N – Back to Work construction company, A6N, back to work Monday on the stalled Niagara Reinforcement Line (NRL) after Hydro One Networks rejected a proposal from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC)
Communications officer Tabitha Curley said OPP have been apprised of the plan.
“As Staff and Community Safety are our number one priority, the OPP is aware of the Back to Work date, time and location and will respond accordingly, in addition A6N regular security company will also be resuming work on that date. “ She did not say if any Six Nations protesters would be charged.
Curley sent out a notice late Friday seeking support for SNGRDC’s plan to have staff from Six Nations owned business under the directorship of the corporation on site. The SNGRDC oversees all of Six Nations revenue generating business from the hugely profitable Six Nations Bingo to the administrative staff, the Gathering Place banquet hall, all tourism activities to greenhouse projects and green energy projects.
In the statement Curley said “On behalf of the Niagara Reinforcement Line Project (NRL) we would like to invite you to join us in supporting A6N as they go Back to Work. As you know, the NRL will bring substantial benefit to the Six Nations Community for many years, and it is important to celebrate the role that all parties played in this success.
She said they will be on site throughout the day.
“We will be gathering at the Access Road on the Hwy 6 bypass on Monday, April 29th, 2019 at 11am. We intend to maintain a presence at that location until 4pm that day, and will have a range of activities and information available for all attendees. From that day forward, A6N will be onsite at the NRL until work is completed. This will ensure the Six Nations Community receives maximum benefit from the project. “
In an interview with Turtle Island News Curley said Hydro One had been in talks with the HCCC. She said the project was originally halted out of respect for the HCCC.
“When SNGRDC instructed its subsidiary company, A6N, to temporarily halt work on the Niagara Reinforcement Line Project (NRP) it did so out of respect and courtesy to allow time for HCCC to engage directly with Hydro One Networks Inc (HONI) regarding the NRP. The project has now been paused for over 3 months which has resulted in the community losing substantial benefits – including employment, resources and profits.”
She said that multiple meetings took place between Hydro One and Confederacy representatives and that a counter-proposal was made by the HCCC.
Curley said that the HCCC proposed that Hydro One abandon their partnership with the SNGRDC and the Mississauga’s of the Credit First Nation and enter into a new agreement solely with the HCCC to complete the line. Instead she said that Hydro One voiced their commitment to honour their previous relationships.
She said the SNGRDC has not been in talks with the HCCC.
Curley said that when A6N returns to work on the project, there will be safety measure in places.
” As noted previously, when A6N returns to work on April 29, 2019 there will be thorough safety inspections completed. Any concerns will be addressed immediately. The project site will be secured by A6N, with support of private security, off-duty police, contractors and the OPP. ”
Work at the NRL was stopped on January 21st, 2019 after HCCC representatives delivered a cease and desist letter to Hydro One. On their monthly newsletter, the Six Nations Elected Council reported that as of March 1st the stoppage had added $1 million in project expenses and will add an additional $93,000 each month it remained stopped. At the time of the stoppage SNGRDC reports that there was approximately two-to-four weeks of construction work remaining on the project but Curley said the stoppage will result in a longer timeline until the project’s completion.
“Due to the work stoppage and demobilization of the project site, the NRP will have to be re-mobilized prior to construction resuming. This is anticipated to take approximately one month. Re-mobilization includes conducting safety inspections, grading access roads, securing and delivering equipment rentals and construction materials. Once the site has been remobilized, construction is expected to take four weeks and an additional month to complete final safety inspections on the line before it transferred to HONI to become operational.”
She said citing the substantial benefit to the Six Nations Community the SNGRDC has made for many years, the corporation is asking for community members to support A6N as they go back to work. The SNGRDC say that they will be maintaining a presence at the access road to the NRL project site at the Highway 6 bypass on Monday April 26th, 2019 at 11:00 am and will remain until 4 pm.
SNGRDC also said they will be on site until the NRL work is complete so that they can ‘ensure the Six Nations Community receives maximum benefit from the project’.
It is not yet known how the HCCC will respond to work being continued on the NRL or with OPP, private security, off-duty police constables and SNGRDC staff and supporters on hand when work does resume. The HCCC has not responded to requests for comment.