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Water

"In our every deliberation we must not only consider the impact from decisions on the lives of our people today or of its affect on our children and grandchildren but, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations."(From the “Kaienerakowa” [Great Laws of Peace] the Haudenosaunee The Six Nations Confederacy).





Case Study Summary from Section 11 of Toolkit – 3 Nations Bridge

The North Channel Bridge is one of two principle bridge structures that comprise the Three Nations Bridge Crossing located at Cornwall Ontario. The North Channel Bridge was constructed circa 1959, connecting Cornwall Island to Cornwall Ontario. The bridge was constructed as a high level crossing over the north channel of the St. Lawrence River and the old Cornwall Canal, in order to accommodate a planned all-Canadian Seaway that was never built. On May 5th 2000, the Government of Canada announced that there was no longer a requirement to maintain an option for an all-Canadian Seaway. The Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd. (FBCL) was tasked to undertake an environmental assessment (EA) under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (the Act, or CEAA) in harmony with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) environmental assessment and the Ontario government.

The Three Nations Bridge Crossing is vitally important to the Mohawks of Akwesasne. Akwesasne means ‘Land where the Partridge Drums’. In the broader context, the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne is comprised of the Canadian portion which is governed by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) and the American portion which is governed by the Mohawk Tribal Council of Akwesasne. The community is unique in that it is comprised of mainland and numerous islands on the St. Lawrence River, which are located within 2 provinces (Ontario and Quebec), one state (New York) and 2 countries (Canada and USA). Within the Canadian portion (MCA), there is no direct access between the three districts; the Snye (Tsi Snaihne) in Quebec, St. Regis Village (Kanatakon) in Quebec and Cornwall Island (Kawehnoke) in Ontario. The Three Nations Bridge Crossing is the most significant fixed link between the districts. As such, members of the Akwesasne community are major users of the crossing, accounting for approximately 50% of all transits.

At the outset of the environmental assessment, the community stated that they would like to enhance the business and social interaction between Cornwall and Cornwall Island. The existing high level bridge is a barrier to such development. Many are of the opinion that the Akwesasne community would benefit greatly by the replacement of the structure with a low level crossing. Trip times between the 2 destinations would be significantly reduced and new opportunities for vehicular, cyclist and pedestrian movements could be created, potentially resulting in increased business on the island. In short, with the replacement of the high level bridge with a new low level crossing, the Akwesasne residents of Cornwall Island could be in a position to strengthen their relationship with Cornwall while maintaining their unique identity and culture. Moreover, the Akwesasne community is home to many skilled steelworkers. The community saw the opportunity to contribute to the project through the employment of this skilled labour force on any reconstruction or removal operation.

Key considerations of the study were:

  • the Akwesasne community;
  • impacts of the high level crossing;
  • maintenance, rehabilitation and repair costs;
  • navigable clearance;
  • boundary waters treaty;
  • Cornwall waterfront development; and
  • corridor renewal.

The study followed the planning process for a detailed ‘screening’ as set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and was harmonized with the Ontario Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Schedule “C”) process and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. Public Information Centres were held during to provide opportunities for public input to the process.