by John Walker

At Haldimand Council meeting on January 24th, CAO Boyle stated that county ownership of the Village Green (Market Square) in Cayuga was questionable due to the grounds being “unpatented” (un-deeded).  Therefore, it was unwise for the county to build the new library and invest there.  Hence the extra $1 million price tag to move the library to Hwy 3.

However,  issuance of the patent for the Market Square (Village Green) on November 18, 1861 is recorded in the Patent Book for Cayuga, page 10, and in the Title Abstract for Cayuga – Book 1, page 54. The Patent is also listed separately in the Ontario Archives Indexes to land Patents.  This is more than adequate proof the Patent was issued.  In October 1864 under Plan (# 13255) the area bounded by King Street, Cayuga Street, Ottawa Street and Talbot Road was divided into lots.  It is hardly conceivable that this was done in the absence of a Patent.

When concerned citizens pointed this information out to CAO Boyle and councillors, they changed their tune.  Now the unpatented ploy has been dropped and “unclear Title” and “ownership in question” has replaced it.  (Per Mayor Hewitt’s comments on Monday, January 29th).

CAO Boyle has now produced a confidential opinion letter from county retained lawyers, Sullivan Mahoney, LLP, regarding the ownership and Patent issues of the Market Square (Village Green) lands.

The lawyer’s opinion is that a Patent was never issued.  This has been disproved in light of existing evidence.  Because you have misplaced the Patent does not mean it never existed.

The lawyer’s research and expertise result in his statement, “The county owns the Market Square…on the principles of dedication”.  The county has also acquired Title by using the lands for public purposes for over sixty years.

In his conclusions the lawyer states, “I do not think it is necessary or advisable to bring any court proceeding to confirm Title to any of the lands…if the intention is to continue with existing uses”.  There is a library on the Village Green now that can be replaced without controversy by a new one!

The letter goes on to warn about a First Nations group or groups being attracted by the potential of the county’s lack of clear Title.  He suggests a large new investment on these grounds could also attract native attention.  However, CAO Boyle has informed Six Nations of our “unpatented” Village Square which will have all buildings removed, setting up for Haudenausanee  Men’s Fire claims as they have done with the Court House Grounds.

Contrary to CAO Boyle’s statement in the Haldimand Press re: requirement for a Superior Court Title application, the lawyer’s basic conclusions and advice was against bringing any court proceeding.  “Recommendation against a court proceeding if the county planned to invest a modest sum to improve …the lands”, was stated.  He wrote,  “advise against a court proceeding prior to a potential sale of…properties.”

This lawyer’s letter, patent or no patent, could not have had any effect on the county decision to build on the old hotel site.  The letter is dated September 6, 2016.  Council’s decision to reject the Village Green site for the far more expensive hotel site was made October 6, 2015, a year previous.  Clearly, this letter had no bearing on the site selection.

Mayor Hewitt has confirmed that the reason this lawyer’s letter became public was due to pressure from citizens. If we can see it now, why not before? This is a perfect example of Haldimand staff and council’s “transparency”  – only when forced and pressured by the public.

Councillors, do the smart thing.  Forestall native issues by building the new library on the Village Green – Save $1,000,000 of taxpayers’ money while providing a safe, quiet, downtown standalone library building to revitalize Cayuga.