Six Nations land claims, Highway 24 and financing for student housing were at the top of the list of topics Brant’s MP and MPP discussed during the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant’s annual MP MPP Breakfast.
More than 200 people attended Friday’s breakfast – run in partnership with Laurier Brantford, Nipissing University and Mohawk College – at the Best Western Brant Park Inn, where MP Phil McColeman and MPP Dave Levac answered questions presented to them by the chamber.
As in past years, the provincial and federal government’s positions on land claims were singled out as a priority.
Levac cited communication and economic development on Six Nations as issues that need to be dealt with.
“There is no way we can move forward if we make decisions, put it in a binder, hand it to Six Nations and say ‘there’s the deal,’” Levac said. “The idea of getting to the table is exactly what we need to do.
“Meetings with various ministers and the premier will be arranged to compliment the initiative taken by the tri-council group (including Six Nations, Brantford and the County of Brant.)”
McColeman said he was encouraged by the work of the tri-council and noted there has been progress with Six Nations since 2010.
“Working with the new tri-council, my office recently hosted an unprecedented meeting on Parliament Hill,” McColeman said. “Negotiation remains the only way to resolve these issues and working together we can establish a way to get these issues back on track.
“Our government has committed to responding and hosting a followup meeting in our current parliamentary session.”
When it came to discussion about Highway 24 and building a new link between Highway 401 and Highway 403, Levac said he would reinforce a request to re-form a group made up of seven mayors and chambers of commerce representatives from surrounding areas.
“We need to come together and make it clear that this is an issue all of us want,” Levac said.
McColeman faced a question about a lack of mortgage financing for building student housing. He cited measures taken by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, but said more still needs to be done.
“We have a federal institution like CMHC, which must produce a product that is suitable and they have started doing that, but they need to get better,” McColeman said.
Following the breakfast, Chamber of Commerce CEO Charlene Nicholson said she was satisfied with the answers she heard from Levac and McColeman.
“There was a bit of divergence from both levels of government on some of the issues, but I think it’s great for the business community to hear from our senior representatives at the same time, addressing issues they have identified as critical to growing their business,” Nicholson said.