N.B. to proceed with Trans-Canada project despite native opposition

WOODSTOCK, N.B. (Aug 23, 2004) — The New Brunswick government is planning to widen a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway that cuts through native land with or without an agreement from the Woodstock First Nation.

The province and band have been for years trying to work out a deal that would allow the new part of the highway — a narrow strip stretching back from the banks of the St. John River near Woodstock — to pass through the band’s property. But talks have broken down in recent weeks, reports the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the province is deterred from continuing with the plan, which is part of a project to finish twinning the highway between Fredericton and the Quebec. Department of Transportation spokesman Alain Bryar told the Telegraph Journal last week that the province will proceed anyway, and that it has advised its contractor to begin work on the Woodstock First Nation property.

He said the department doesn’t need the band’s consent because an agreement made in 1959 gave it a “60-metre-wide right-of-way” on the land. It will, however, have to put the highway’s two sets of lanes closer together than it originally planned in order to comply with the 1959 agreement.

Woodstock Chief Jeff Tomah invited the province to take the band to court over the land claim, but vowed he will not to allow the province to build on the property unless it first strikes a deal with the band.

— from the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

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