October 26th Prehearing Conference: An Update
Thank you to everyone who attended the second OMB Prehearing Conference held Monday in Apsley – and to those unable to attend who sent your good wishes. We had hoped to see 30 FFW supporters; 80 of you showed up! It was a fantastic turnout.
Here’s what happened:
The Conference started at 10 a.m. and wrapped up at 3 p.m.
There were three breaks from the public meeting during which the OMB Member Marc Denhez huddled with the lawyers in an effort to negotiate agreement on the following points:
• Whether – and when – to hold a 3rd Prehearing Conference – an idea introduced by FFW lawyer David Donnelly;
• The start date for the Hearing itself. FFW lawyer David Donnelly requested that the Hearing start in September 2016, allowing expert witnesses time during the spring season to observe the property; the developer’s lawyer, Jonathan Wigley, argued for a Spring 2016 start date;
• Whether or not Cultural Heritage issues will be considered as a block on their own – separated from planning and ecological issues; this was a request by FFW lawyer David Donnelly;
• Whether, during the time set aside for Cultural Heritage issues, the venue for the hearing will shift to Curve Lake First Nation (CLFN) – another request of David Donnelly opposed by the developer and his lawyer;
• When and for how long CLFN and FFW experts will gain access to the property in order to do their assessments.
In the end, having warned the lawyers that if they couldn’t come to an agreement, he would do it for them, OMB Member Marc Denhez announced his decisions:
• The start date of the estimated four-week Hearing will be Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
• Cultural Heritage issues WILL be considered as a block on on their own.
• On November 18, 2015 Curve Lake Elders and experts will be granted access to the site to begin their assessment and to determine how many days they’ll need in the spring of 2016 to complete their examination of the property – report to be submitted to OMB by March 2016.
• There will be a 3rd OMB Prehearing Conference, as requested by David Donnelly, on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 at 10 a.m., North Kawartha Community Centre. The OMB Member will hear arguments for holding the Cultural Heritage block of the hearing at Curve Lake First Nation.
This was a very good day for FFW! Thanks to our fantastic legal team of David Donnelly and Anne Sabourin we’ve made some significant strides forward, achieving the Hearing start date we wanted and contributing to the respectful consideration of First Nations cultural heritage concerns.
Other matters under discussion:
• The lawyers are to draft a procedural order and circulate it by November 15th, 2015;
• Anne Sabourin reported that all Participants have been contacted with a request that they submit their issue list to her. One third have responded so far. Some with like issues will be merged with others. All Participants and the OMB will be notified as to any decisions made. (N.B. If you are a registered Participant and haven’t yet responded to Anne’s email, please do so as soon as possible.)
OMB Member Marc Denhez will post and circulate his decision from Monday’s Prehearing Conference by the end of November 2015.