Talks ongoing over toll booth

Peggy Revell

Talks between government and Couchiching First Nation continue as the one-week mark arrives since the band first erected a toll booth on Highway 11 just west of the Noden Causeway.
“Ministry staff met with Chief McPherson [Thursday] to discuss a variety of issues,” Aboriginal Affairs spokesman Greg Flood said in an e-mail update to the Fort Frances Times.
“The details of that conversation remain confidential,” he stated. “But what I can say is that this was a productive meeting and ministry officials are continuing their discussions with Couchiching First Nation and the federal government.
“We believe the best way forward is through meaningful and positive discussion,” Flood added.
Couchiching leadership also has been meeting with federal representatives from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
While the toll booth remained up as of press time this morning, motorists who do not want to pay the $1 toll have been passing through unheeded.
The band also has made a monthly pass for $25 (which for now counts for both May and June) available at the booth itself and the band office.
The OPP, meanwhile, continues to monitor the situation.
“The traffic flow is orderly still, very minimal wait,” said Cst. Anne McCoy.
“Not much has changed in terms of updates, it’s generally been the same since the weekend,” she added.
“We have orderly flow, good traffic, good communications with Couchiching First Nation chief and council.”
Cst. McCoy also said their provincial liaison team still is working hard at keeping the lines of communication open.
“We’ve had some successes with just knowing what’s going on and what’s to be anticipated,” she explained.
“But our officers are remaining at the scene, both our plainsclothed officers and our uniformed members, and will remain there until public safety is no longer an issue,” Cst. McCoy stressed.