The final lease extension is finished for the Kanawaki Golf Club, meaning the land will be returned to the community and its landowners in 25 years and the community has to consider what to do with the land when that lease ends, said the Chief in charge of the portfolio.
“It’s really the best-case in a worst-case scenario,” said Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Chief Cody Diabo, who is the lead on the environment portfolio. “Because of the way the land is being used – as a golf course – the lessors are paid on the rate applied for recreational use.”
Diabo signed the lease extension agreement on behalf of Kahnawake, who hold an interest in the common lands totaling approximately 8.2 acres, as well as the underlying communal interest in the privately-held land. The amount to be received for the common lands is $5,833 annually, which will increase every five years until the 20th year, at which time the amount will be $6,773 annually for the final five years. The amounts for private lot holders are at the same rate of remuneration per acre.
“Our lands have been tied up in this lease since 1914,” Diabo said. “However, in 25 years, the lease will terminate and the lands will finally be returned to community members. The next steps will be to have them returned in the same condition as when they were originally taken.”
Diabo said the time has now come to start making plans for the land after it’s returned to the community.
“You know, 25 years sounds like a long time, but it will be over and we’ll have to start planning for the land and the environmental concerns that go along with it. We have to start the process and get prepared for that time,” he said. “25 years will come and go, so we have to be prepared.”
The relatively low land-use rates are part of the disadvantageous lease signed by the Indian agent in the early 20th century, Diabo said.
“Because of the way the lease was structured – in an extremely advantageous way for the golf club – we’re limited in what we can get for it,” he said, adding the land deal was simply part of the way Indigenous communities were marginalized by the federal government.
“It’s just part of the long history of land takings throughout Canadian history,” he said. “We will be happy to have those lands back in the community.”
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase