Ontario slowly closing in on the largest land-claims settlement in Canadian history
The treaty negotiations cover 36,000 square kilometres, 86 municipalities and 1.1 million residents in the province
The people of Ontario have, for the most part, watched the evolution of Aboriginal land claims from afar, with British Columbia snatching the lion’s share of the headlines.
But reality is about to set in as Ontario closes in on a treaty with the Algonquins of Ontario, the first modern-day treaty the province has ever signed. The treaty negotiations, which involve the federal government as well, cover 36,000 square kilometres, 86 municipalities and 1.1 million residents in Ontario.
“It’s one of the largest land claims in Canada’s history,” said Robert Potts of Blaney McMurtry LLP in Toronto, who has been the senior negotiator for the Algonquins since 2005.
The territory claimed embraces land stretching from Ottawa to Kingston to North Bay. Within its boundaries are the nation’s capital, including Parliament Hill, large parts of the Ottawa Valley, and virtually all of Algonquin Provincial Park. Because the claims are not limited to Crown lands, however, and cover a wide range of private property rights and interests, the negotiations are extremely complex.