Iroquoia Heights Trails Reopened

Ancaster park reopens after native assurances

The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 19, 2009)

An Ancaster park closed because of safety concerns over deer hunting by members of Six Nations has reopened.

Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area reopened yesterday morning after the Hamilton Conservation Authority said it received assurances from a Six Nations Confederacy representative there'll be no more deer hunting in the Old Mohawk Road park.

"It is our understanding there is no hunting taking place," said Steve Miazga, chief administrative officer for the HCA, shortly after he had a phone conversation with lawyer Paul Williams. "He just said that is the current position of the Confederacy."

While the park has reopened, the HCA is still asking citizens to inform them immediately if they see any hunters in the park.

Miazga said the authority is also continuing to "dialogue" on the issue with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Six Nations -- both the traditional Confederacy and the elected band council. He is planning to meet with Williams.

Williams, a Waterloo-based lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

Miazga said closure signs at the park have been removed and notices will be sent to neighbours informing them it has reopened.

The park was closed Nov. 6 after residents complained to the HCA about native hunters killing deer in the park.

Some members of Six Nations say they have the right to hunt in the park under the Nanfan Treaty of 1701, which gave the Iroquois Confederacy perpetual hunting and fishing rights in southwestern Ontario.

The HCA says the hunting was unauthorized. The city's discharge of firearms bylaw prohibits people from firing a bow within 100 metres of a dwelling, a public park or a private park.

Those who violate the bylaw can be charged under the Provincial Offences Act.