Published: September 13, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
A proposal to rezone a Howey Bay landmass passed an administrative hurdle this week, despite opposition based in historical injustices.
On Sept. 11 the Planning Advisory Committee reviewed an application for a zoning by-law amendment that would change Howey Island, an 8.1 acre landmass also commonly known as Cameron Island, from Natural Resources to Recreational Residential. The change would allow the owner of the landmass to construct a “single detached recreation residential dwelling.”
However, speaking in opposition to the proposal, members of the Cameron family challenged the ownership of the island and how it came to be included in the Red Lake District.
“We believe that the island belongs to the Cameron family and not to the Municipality of Red Lake,” stated Kathy Tetlock noting her family had purchased a house on the island when they relocated from Pikangikum in the 1940s, which was destroyed, she says, by the local government in the 1960s.
“The Cameron family was not warned or informed of the destruction of their home, neither have they been compensated for it.”
Brenda Cameron also addressed leaders noting her grandmother Matilda Turtle Cameron was living on the island but was away from the dwelling at the time of its destruction noting her family wasn’t the only one displaced from their homes during that time period.
“With homes destroyed the municipality was free to assume possession of the land. Among these homes was that of my grandmother,” she stated adding:
“What was stolen from us at that time…was our gathering place, our place of belonging and comfort. Not only in her lifetime but for those of us that will never meet her. As long as the island remains undeveloped there remains a possibility of our reclamation of what is rightfully our grandmothers, in its original state, complete with a foundation that sits on the island. It is our position that the municipality of Red Lake and this committee that if they proceed, they now do so with the full knowledge that the descendants are opposed to this rezoning.”
Municipal Planner Sarah Robin told those gathered at the start of the meeting the bylaw amendment applicant had notified the Municipality that he was unable to attend and presented the Planning Department Staff Report prepared in advance of the gathering. The report noted that notice of the change was posted at the Municipal office and was included in town communications as well was circulated to the Northwestern Health Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and various department heads in the local government.
After discussing the presentation with meeting attendees, planning committee members brought the amendment to a vote that resulted in a split decision. Chair Gary Ripley cast the final vote in favour of approving the amendment noting the recommendation would go to Council later this month for final consideration.