By Victoria Gray
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND-Amy Miller is at her wits end trying to oust a factory that set up shop next to her property.
“It has disrupted my family’s peace,” she told Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) at its August 10th council meeting. “Firstly the land was not to be sold, so there’s that; and I’ve had some issues, just regarding my privacy being violated,” she said. “This is not OK.”
Miller made an emotional plea to SNEC to have something done to stop factories from operating in residential areas, but unfortunately, there isn’t much council can do without zoning bylaws, a mandatory business registry and inspections to make sure they are doing what they say.
Miller said the land next to her Third Line property near Seneca Road was sold without any consultation of neighbours and a business moved in, which she was told was supposed to contain an automotive garage, but now, she suspects a cigarette factory is operating in the building.
She says the 24 hour security guards shine their lights into her home throughout the night and despite asking them to turn their cars, the light continues to shine into her living room and kitchen.
“I’m not comfortable,” she said. “If it’s a factory I don’t want to live here. I don’t want to live beside a factory,” she said. “If it was approved, do I get compensated? I may have to move, see, this is not OK for me, but then again, if I move what’s protecting me from it happening again? Right, there’s nothing.”
Miller fears for her family’s health, the environment, the reserve and the future.
Elected Chief Mark Hill offered to mediate discussions between Miller and the property owner and pledged to make the issue a standing agenda item at the SNEC’s Environment committee as well as write a letter to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) to talk about the issue in an attempt to find a solution.
Councillor Wendy Johnson said she brought up the issue 11 years ago and was hit by jurisdiction and enforcement roadblocks. The only solution she could see was to buy all the land around a home, to maintain control of it. The current system benefits those with money, who can afford to own the land, but most of all creating change it met with opposition.
“The issues is even if we try to, it becomes a rights, a jurisdiction and enforcement issue. The reality is we don’t have the support to do that. The answer is the community, It has to be community driven,” she said. “If we make going to make laws there will be a big argument. How do you enforce that? It goes on. and on, and on. Elected council gets pitted against confederacy council, that’s the cyclical, How do we overcome those things. They are all the reality.”
Hill agreed that the two councils need to come together and put their power struggles behind them to do what’s best for the community.
“As a community, we need to look to those topics and have those hard discussions. Are we going to sit here and have this infighting? We’re going to the core of issue itself and now to tackle these other issues,” he said.
Councillor Helen Miller has lived almost next door to Grand River Enterprises for many years and has a lot of contempt for the problems the large factory causes for her, the environment and her enjoyment of her property. When GRE’s septic system failed and flooded her yard, she couldn’t get anyone to help her; no the Men’s Fire, not the HCCC and not SNEC because she says their family members worked there and were afraid to have them lose their jobs.
“There’s so many things. We really need to get a handle on it, somehow. I think this is one of the issues where HCCC coming forward to work with council, we need the two councils on this. If we try to do something- we can tell nobody what to do. We ned both councils working on this. It’s the only way we will find a solution,” she said.