Portlands project gets new manager, moves forward

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By Nick Seebruch
Portlands project gets new manager, moves forward
A satellite view of the Portlands highlighted in red. Screen capture.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The City of Cornwall and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) jointly announced on Monday, July 27 that the Cornwall and Counties Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) and their Cross Border Partnership program will be charged with getting the Portlands ready for development.

In 2016 Cornwall and Akwesasne signed a joint ownership agreement to purchase and become equal partners in the development of the former Cornwall Harbour and surrounding lands.

When the land was divested by the federal government, it was stipulated that it continue to operate as a harbour for a period of two years.

The two municipalities chose the Cross Border Partnership program to lead the development of the project because of its ties in both communities.

In 2018 the Cross Border Partnership program came into being after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, CFDC, MCA Economic Development program and the Massena Chamber of Commerce.

The CFDC’s Simon McLinden has been chosen as the project manager.

Now that a project manager has been chosen, McLinden has been given one year to complete a four phase plan designed to get the Portlands ready for development.

“It is unique to have a co-ownership agreement between a municipality and a First Nation. Because this is unique, because at this particular time in history it is so important to embark on development where collaboration is a part of the project,” said Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement. “We want to show the province and our nation what two communities can do when moving forward in harmony in developing a really promising partnership.”

“There is significant potential to create positives for both of our communities for generations to come,” added MCA Grand Chief Abram Benedict.

The first phase will involve catching up on all of the administrative requirements of such a large project. The end of Phase One will see a new website launched dedicated to communicating with the public about the Portlands.

The second phase will involve the creation of a strategic plan and develop terms of reference.

The third phase will be the beginning of the clean-up phase of the property with a development of a communication plan in preparation for Phase 4 which will heavily feature public consultation in both communities to build a joint vision for the Portlands.

“This is land to be enjoyed by each community,” said McLinden. “It is one vision that needs to be in harmony in both communities. The public consultation part of this will be crucial.”

There will be three public consultation meetings in Cornwall and three in Akwesasne.

“A project of this magnitude will only work if our community is engaged,” said Mayor Clement. “It is also about seeking consensus and harmony. Those aren’t just words, it is about getting that deeper relationship between our communities.”

McLinden explained that the planned next steps include setting up regular meetings with the property owners and getting to a “restarting point”.

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