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Ont. offers compensation to Caledonia homeowners
TORONTO - Some residents of Caledonia, Ont., say a provincial offer of compensation for homeowners living near the site of a year-long aboriginal occupation is an insult and doesn't recognize the emotional and physiological suffering they've endured.
The Ontario government announced Monday it would offer a total of $430,000 in compensation to 135 households in the town south of Hamilton, ranging from a maximum of $6,000 for those closest to the site of a disputed housing development to $2,000 to those living across the street.
Christine Neill, a local resident who runs the Home 'N Hearth store, said she expected homeowners would be offered a lot more in compensation for everything from vandalism to their homes to the cost of installing new security systems, especially after the government promised to help them financially.
"They've been working on this for a year, since the occupation began, and that's the best they can come up with, was $6,000?'' Neill asked.
"Just the amount of emotional (suffering), the value of their homes -- it's just everything that people have been through here. That is almost like spitting into their face, to be perfectly honest.''
Haldimand Mayor Marie Trainer, who was not immediately available to comment Monday, had said the province would have to offer at least $2 million to Caledonia homeowners.
Trainer had also said residents should be compensated for the psychological damage she said many have suffered during the year of often violent confrontations between residents, protesters and police.
But the government has so far made no mention of psychological suffering.
The occupation has cost Ontario more than $46 million to compensate Caledonia businesses, purchase the disputed land and pay for policing the standoff.
Six Nations protesters have occupied the former housing development site since February 2006, and say they won't leave until the land is returned to them.