Members of Six Nations have joined Southgate residents in the fight to prevent human waste processing in Dundalk’s Eco Park.
Protesters are blocking the road leading to the proposed site of the Southgate Organic Materials Recovery Centre.
“No sludge is going into Dundalk. That’s the whole thing right there,” Six Nations elder Ruby Montour said. “We’re not going to let them put it on the land. They’re not going to bring it there.”
Lystek, the company that plans to operate the facility, has acquired land in Dundalk’s Eco Park and gained site plan approval from the municipality.
Ministry of the Environment approval is pending for the plant that would process human waste into biofertilizer.
However, the site of the proposed facility is within the Haldimand Tract, a land treaty dating back to 1784.
“The Haldimand tract belongs to Six Nations,” Montour said. “They might as well call it dead, nothing is going to happen to that earth anymore. You don’t crap where you eat, that’s all there is to it.”
Montour, a key activist in recent Caledonia disputes, said First Nations activists were not consulted in the approval process and were not granted time to complete an archaeological study of the land.
“There was nothing done that we require,” Montour said.
Southgate Mayor Brian Milne disagrees. He said Six Nations has been included in the process for months.
“They are well aware of the project and we are continuing to consult with them,” Milne said.
The mayor added his understanding of the purpose behind the blockade was to win First Nations involvement in the process.
“We’ve done what the blockaders have requested, but they are continuing to block a public roadway,” Milne said.
Montour said Six Nations must be convinced the Lystek’s proposed process is safe before the blockade ends.
“If he can grab a cup full of that stuff and drink it, then maybe I’ll let him put it on the land,” she said.
Lystek representatives couldn’t be reached for comment by The Banner’s deadline.
On Monday (April 23), about two dozen Southgate residents manned the barricade, which consisted of a pickup truck blocking the roadway. While Six Nations members were not present, the First Nations unity and Hiawatha flags flew from the back of the truck.
Audrey Oldfield, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Southgate, said the blockade is the first time she has joined a protest. Oldfield is opposed to the facility due to its proximity to the Dundalk Proton Public School — where she served as principal before retiring. Lagoons used in the biofertilizer process would be located about 350 metres from the school property.
“I can’t believe I am down here protesting,” Oldfield said. “I can’t believe it’s reached this stage.”
Protesters have denied entry to the Eco Park for about three weeks, according to Anna-Marie Fosbrooke, a member of the Southgate Public Interest Research Group.
“We are letting select individuals in,” Fosbrooke said, explaining contractors were allowed to retrieve their tools from the facility’s job site.
The blockade is manned mostly during business hours. However, protester Doyle Prier said the group continuously maintains eyes on who enters the park.
“In some ways, we are watching it 24 hours a day,” Prier said.
Southgate residents are asking why the blockade is allowed to continue operation, according to the mayor. The mayor said protesters to the project should follow the democratic process installed to oppose the development.
“It’s a little distressing when I see a group of people on a whim almost decide they are going to blockade property like that,” Milne said.
The mayor added police are “reluctant” to end the blockade.
“We’re getting a lot of pressure to open the road, but I’m not the OPP. They are the ones with the authority,” Milne said.
Grey County OPP spokesperson Const. Alina Grelik said a member of the OPP’s Provincial Liaison Team (PLT) is on site of the blockade. The PLT, according to the OPP’s website, is “an integral part of police planning and response” where there is a possibility of conflict.
“The OPP is there to just protect the public and keep the peace,” Grelik said. “They are entitled to protest.”