It's intriguing that while six nations demonstrators sleep in cold tents, pelted by rain and the epithets of angry Caledonians, Dalton McGuinty's office is debating the final version of the Libs' proposed growth management plan.
The plan, based on the Places To Grow Act, appropriately dubbed by critics Places To Sprawl, demonstrates that the native blockade on Highway 6, besides being a struggle to enforce the Haldimand Land Grant of 1784, may also be doing all of us a big favour.
Iroquois protestors are striking a blow against a tragically faulty Greenbelt plan. The heavily forested Grand River Territory they are protecting, one of the last stands of Carolinian wilderness, is within an inch of becoming a wall of sprawl.
Last June, when it passed the Places To Grow Act, the province refused to add buffer lands outside urban zoning boundaries to the previously legislated Greenbelt. If it had, it's unlikely the explosive confrontation at Douglas Creek would have played out the way it has.
It's a much weaker document than even the Planning Act in allowing expansions onto farmland and forests. The fact is, Caledonia is one of the "designated growth areas" under the proposed plan.
Unlike the Niagara fruit belt, where the Greenbelt has mandated a 10-year freeze on urban encroachment on buffer zones, the lands adjoining the Grand River Territory in Haldimand and Brant counties are virtually unprotected.
So not only was a huge swath of this territory taken from the Six Nations through disputed dealings (remember, they were originally given a strip 20 kilometres wide along the river, from Lake Erie to the Grand's headwaters), but it is now left to be development fodder.
Municipal and business schemes for development adjacent to the nearby Hamilton airport have intensified urban pressures on this stretch. The Places Grow document shows how well founded are native fears of a concrete engulfment.
Six Nations Confederacy spokesperson Janie Jamieson told an interviewer recently that both the longstanding land grievance and intensive development in the Golden Horseshoe - "They were talking about twice the population of Toronto' - spurred the protest.
One aspect of Hamilton's sprawling vision is the Areotopolis (airport city), the subject of an upcoming Ontario Municipal Board hearing. This project is closely linked to support from adjoining municipalities, including Caledonia, for a mid-Niagara Peninsula highway.
Apart from blasting another massive hole in the escarpment comparable to the Red Hill Creek expressway, this road would promote sprawl in a huge arc from Hamilton to Niagara Falls. It's a speedway backed by developers, the real estate fraternity and municipal politicians who are now in conflict with the native resisters.
Native protestors are careful not to dilute their historic claim to the Grand River lands by emphasizing land use issues. Blockade spokesperson Hazel Hill deflects questions about Liberal development policy by reaffirming that the Douglas Creek land is part of "unceded territory."
"On either side of the Grand, the land is unceded and unsold," she tells NOW on her cellphone as she returns to camp from a battery run. "We stand by that position. All up and down the river in all the townships and cities, there is development going on. The respect that has been non-existent for so long has to be addressed in terms of title to the land."
As the occupiers shiver and endure abuse, an OMB hearing proceeds over Moon Point, one of Lake Simcoe's last pieces of undisturbed forested shoreline. Here, developers, with the support of local municipalities, are planning to wreck a rare forest, outside the Greenbelt, for 14 estate homes. All of McGuinty's planning reforms have not stopped a hearing that will determine the future of one of greater Toronto's most loved features.
Six Nations occupiers are blockading against colonial trickery, but we've all got liars and land thieves to stand up to.