Mayor Jim Watson says the City of Ottawa should still create a whole new community called Tewin, even if most of that land in the rural southeast is now known to be privately held rather than owned by the Algonquins of Ontario group.
City council decided last winter that hundreds of hectares should be allowed inside the city's urban boundary so the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) could pursue a major development — a vision of a sustainable, compact suburb. The treaty-negotiating organization's lands didn't originally make the cut, compared to other rural properties, because city staff had scored them poorly for being far from transit and other infrastructure.
At the time, council members and the mayor said they made the decision in the name of reconciliation and economic development for Indigenous people.
Earlier this week, CBC News reported that the Algonquins of Ontario Realty Corporation owns less than a third of the expansion lands that have now been mapped, while their development partner, the Taggart Group, owns nearly half.
Asked on Wednesday if he still felt the Tewin lands should be brought within the urban boundary, when the official plan is voted on Oct. 27, Watson said he did.
"Lots of projects around the city are developed with more than one proponent, and it's not always a fifty-fifty split," answered Watson.
"My understanding, from discussions I've had and questions I've asked, is that there's profit-sharing for the Algonquins."
The AOO and Taggart Group had told CBC News in an email theirs was a "true partnership" based in reconciliation and profits would be shared over all lands at Tewin, so the AOO would directly benefit from lands Taggart as well.
Algonquin community leaders and chiefs, however, have questioned how individual Algonquin people will benefit from the project. They still strongly oppose the project and council's decision, because they do not recognize the AOO or many of its members as "legitimate" Algonquins.
Watson said he expects the city to have a "fulsome discussion" on Ottawa's new official plan, and its Tewin lands, at an important joint meeting of the planning committee and the agricultural and rural affairs committee that begins Thursday morning.
That meeting is expected to last a few days, and the mayor said more than 80 people have signed up to give public delegations.