The cottagers have been told to vacate the buildings by the end of January. According to the Globe, "more jarring was the issue of building ownership: "You are not allowed to remove or dismantle any structures affixed to the land," said the letter, signed by Leea Litzgus, the department's Ontario director of lands and trusts services."
The cottagers feel that the buildings are theirs, because as the Owen Sound Sun Times reports:
Those leases with INAC direct that tenants receive 12 months notice if the land is to become unavailable for cottage rental purposes. They also give cottagers the right within 30 days to remove any buildings they erected on the leased land, after which they would become the property of the Crown.
Instead, and despite years of INAC assurances - one in an e-mail as recently as last November - that negotiations toward new leases were proceeding, the cottagers in a December letter from INAC were abruptly ordered out and given until Jan. 31 to collect their belongings.
INAC spokesman Brock Worobel said Wednesday the federal government does not have a position on cottage ownership, and he would not discuss terms of the expired leases with INAC on behalf of the First Nation land holders.
"The First Nation is of the opinion that the cottages are theirs," Worobel said. "We do not have a position on who owns the cottages and that needs to be decided in a court of law."
The Hope Bay cottagers are taking a very non-confrontational approach to this frustrating situation. They are appealing for meetings and discussion from both sides, but so far without results.
This conflict is far different from Caledonia inasmuch as the land is not in dispute. However, given the poor track record of both levels of government on that file, I can only wish the cottages of Hope Bay the patience of Job with regards to its resolution.