want to help town in pipeline battle
By Angela McEwen
The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation are looking
forward to working with the Town of Collingwood in an
attempt to solve some of the issues regarding the waters
of Georgian Bay.
"This is the first time that we've been asked to
come to something like this," said Chief Ralph Akiwenzie
of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. "I
view this as an education process as well. And if the
council would like to have continuing dialogue that's
The First Nations community, located on the Bruce Peninsula,
is facing similar issues as Collingwood regarding water
pipelines being proposed to solve Walkerton's water problems.
Many of the municipalities are lobbying to build pipelines,
a 50-kilometre one to Lake Huron or a 75 kilometre one
to Georgian Bay, rather than give serious consideration
to the other two proposals outlined in the Environmental
Assessment, said Akiwenzie.
The other options include expanding current wells and
digging a new well field.
Closer to home, New Tecumseth is attempting to build
a pipeline from Alliston to Bond Head and supply the municipality
of Bradford with water through the existing Collingwood/Alliston
Collingwood is concerned with the sale of water outside
the Nottawasaga Watershed.
"This brings us together with some commonalities
in regards to water," Akiwenzie told council Monday
"Our involvement with water goes way back since
The pipeline would also affect Saugeen First Nation,
which is located on the eastern side of Georgian Bay near
"We are very very interested in the terms of water
and its use," said Akiwenzie. For decades, the communities
have been battling against development along the shores
of the bay attempting to protect the natural environment
as well as their fishing and treaty rights.
In 1999, the community made a presentation to an International
Commission regarding the sale of bulk water and the potential
hazards it holds, he said.
"Our rights would mean nothing if it wasn't for
our resources," said Akiwenzie.
"The First Nations point of view (is that) we have
quite a concern with any diversion of water on Georgian
Bay and Lake Huron and it's tied in with rights. "
Any diversion of water from its natural environment,
whether a stream, lake, river or pond, has an effect on
the species which inhabit the area and the ecosystem surrounding
it, he added.
"It's about time the First Nations point of view
is upheld," he said. "Any diversion of any water
into a pipeline will have an effect on the shore. What
good are our boats if there's no water?"
The quality and quantity of water in Georgian Bay is
quickly becoming a serious concern with area communities,
especially since the water levels are so much lower than
"Any shoreline alteration of any development should
be of concern to us," he said. "I think we come
at an important time of change."
The Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation aren't totally
opposed to pipelines. However, the process itself has
raised the most grave concerns, said David McLaren communications
"They did not approach the First Nation to see what
they thought of it," McLaren told council. "There
are over 100 First Nations in Canada (that) have water
problems and are on water-boiling advisories. Nobody knows
exactly how many people have died or became ill from the
First Nations people should be more involved in watershed
planning since there are many within the communities who
have the environmental knowledge regarding their traditional
territories, said McLaren.
"The natural environment doesn't have a lot of weight
in the EA process," he stated.
Many different aspects of the natural environment are
affected during bulk water transfers and since there are
so many variables, it's difficult even for scientists
to gauge the full extent of the harm, he added.
Nutrient recycling, bionic interactions and the behaviours
of fish such as reproduction are some of the areas which
should be studied during the EA process when municipalities
are attempting to build pipelines, he added.
"In talking to some people around here there is
some concern about the pipeline which goes to Alliston
and the water going out of the watershed," said McLaren.
The studies surrounding individual pipelines have produced
insufficient scientific data, and networks of pipelines
have been given less consideration, he added.
Although it's been stated the Great Lakes hold 18 per
cent of the world's fresh water, most of it dates from
the last ice age and isn't replaceable.
Coun. Bev Willis said he's in favour of continuing dialogue
with the community and creating a stronger partnership
for the future.
Coun. Rick Lloyd noted that Collingwood is concerned
with protecting the wetlands and aquifers within its boundaries,
and doesn't want to see the water piped outside the watershed.
"There's a lot we can do and the answer isn't just
piping water to another community," said Lloyd. "Twenty
years ago, this glass of water was just that - now it's
Another problem with the EA process is the public is
only given 30 days in which to come forward with any concerns
they may have regarding a development taking place, said
It's challenging to get a lot of information regarding
anything in such a short time, he added.
Many of the councillors agreed the process has serious
flaws and were also concerned with the limited amount
of time in which to review studies then supply input into