UPDATE: Akwesasne dropped review to foster talks about acquiring land, says mayor

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CORNWALL, Ontario - Akwesasne has discontinued a judicial review it was seeking on the controversial waterfront tank project in Cornwall, and Mayor Bob Kilger said it was part of a move to kick-start talks around taking over the land in the area.

An update on the Federal Court of Canada website says that on Feb. 12 Akwesasne alerted the court that it was pulling the plug on the review.

Kilger, who spoke with leadership in Akwesasne Wednesday afternoon, was told that Transport Canada suggested it would return to talks concerning the divestiture of the waterfront lands, if Akwesasne dropped the review.

Akwesasne did that last week - and days later construction crews reappeared at the property, and this week ignored a stop-work order.

The tanks are being built for a private firm, Trillium Distribution.

"(Akwesasne) acted in good faith, not knowing that their move could cause Trillium to come back to work," said Kilger.

Even the mayor suggested "it looks a little suspicious" that days after dropping the review construction crews returned.

A frustrated Kilger laid blame with Transport Canada for not alerting Cornwall.

"Here's Transport Canada talking to one stakeholder....and no contact with the City of Cornwall," Kilger fumed. "We're being marginalized and ignored by Transport Canada.

"It's getting pretty embarrassing, and pretty frustrating."

Akwesasne, which filed the review under the name of Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, had sought the review in an attempt to block construction of the project on Cornwall's waterfront.

Akwesasne officials have not yet returned phone calls seeking comment as to why they made this decision.

Transport Canada has likewise not yet responded to a request for comment.

Kilger said the city is running out of timely options it can employ to stop the project which began when a private firm, Trillium Distribution, signed a lease with Transport Canada which owns the property.

A municipal stop-work order is being ignored as construction crews continue work at the property.

"Obviously they have taken a position that they are exempt...because they have a lease with Transport Canada," said Kilger. "We just have to keep making the moves when we can to keep up the pressure."

But Kilger conceded many of those moves won't be announced until next week when the city sits down with its lawyers to plot strategy - which takes up time while construction continues.

Organizations: Federal Court, Transport Canada

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Ontario, Canada

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