To the Editors,
This morning (July 20), I was driving down McKenzie Road heading south out of Caledonia, past the new construction site where our family’s future new home is being built by Ballantry Homes. At this point I know exactly where our home will be built. We have driven by many times to check out the progress and discuss how great it is going to be to live there. We were one of the first in line to purchase our home, which was supposed to be ready to move in before the end of the year.
Even with construction delays due to COVID-19, things were relatively still on track, until today.
As I looked around, I saw a large sign on the side of a large excavator the reads “LANDBACK” in capital letters. Then as I continued to look, I saw individuals in the distance, tents, vehicles, and flags flying at the top of the excavator that I couldn’t quite make out. I really didn’t have to know what flags were flying to realize what was happening. Another protest in Caledonia.
Being a resident of Caledonia for almost a decade now, I was not here when the protests at Douglas Creek Estates took place, but I would surmise that most residents of Caledonia are well aware of what went on 14 years ago, which resulted in a class-action lawsuit against the provincial government that claimed the government was not adequately protecting residents.
So, should I be surprised that this is happening again? Probably not. To be clear, I am not passing judgement on whether the issues are real. There are many government officials and representatives of the protesters that are much closer and knowledgeable to the situation than I am.
What I do know, is how the people of Caledonia feel when this happens, and it isn’t a good feeling. Many pass blame on the protesters and their tactics. Are these protests really the best way to get your point across? With recent global events, shouldn’t our governments be more sympathetic to listen to the concerns of our protesters? I certainly hope so.
What about the government and OPP’s inability to resolve this situation for good? Do our federal and provincial governments care about the people of Caledonia? On February 24 this year, protesters again set up a blockade at the Highway 6 bypass in Caledonia for four weeks until they finally walked away when the news was singularly focused on COVID-19. During this time what did the OPP do? They were monitoring the situation to maintain peace and public safety.
Where does this leave us? The people of Caledonia are fed up. We have multi-term politicians representing Haldimand County that know exactly what is happening and have continuously fought for residents and businesses, but they are reaching deaf ears. If we can’t get our government to listen and act, you might as well say goodbye to any new development for many more years. Why would a developer or new residents choose to come here, when there is much less risk to develop or reside in other communities?
So I implore the provincial and federal governments to finally stand up and take action and I implore the protesters to change their tactics and seek out more peaceful ways to resolve their issues.
It’s time for action to resolve this latest protest that affects tens of thousands of current and future residents and business owners of Haldimand County. Action that sets the path to peace once and for all.