The groundwork has been laid for a “world-class” development to be built on the former grounds of the Kapyong barracks after seven Treaty 1 First Nations and the Canadian government signed an agreement in principle over the long-contested property.
On April 11, Chiefs Dennis Meeches (Long Plain First Nation), Jim Bear (Brokenhead Ojibway Nation), Glenn Hudson (Peguis First Nation), Craig Alexander (Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation), Derrick Henderson (Sagkeeng First Nation), Lance Roulette (Sandy Bay First Nation) and Francine Meeches (Swan Lake First Nation) joined Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan at Assiniboia Downs to put in writing the government’s intention to sell 110 acres of the former military base located along Kenaston Boulevard to the Treaty 1 First Nations. A purchase price was not disclosed and the Canada Lands Company will retain 50 acres of land.
The agreement in principle will guide the development of a final settlement agreement (which will confirm the sale, price and future use of the land), officials say.
According to Dennis Meeches, the Treaty 1 First Nations — which will own the property collectively — hope to have the final settlement agreement completed and urban reserve status on some parcels of the property by 2021. However, resolving issues related to the widening of Kenaston Boulevard is the top priority, Meeches said.
“The first order of business for the Treaty 1 chiefs would be to invite the City of Winnipeg to meet with Treaty 1 and discuss Kenaston,” he said. “It’s always been in the forefront of our discussion.”
While no firm details were provided about what the development may look like, Meeches said Treaty 1 First Nations will be working collaboratively with Canada Lands Company, the City of Winnipeg, and the neighbours as to what the site will hold.
He said renderings of the development will be released in the near future and might include condos and housing, government and commercial space, arts and culture institutions, hospitality centres, an Indigenous war museum, Indigenous cadet programs, parks and more.
“There’s so much opportunity; it’s a big parcel of land that we have there,” Meeches said. “So we’ll be able to look at a lot of different opportunities for mixed use.
“What we plan for that site, I believe will be world-class,” he added. “We have a lot of people, Indigenous companies… First Nations, that have very large capital funds to develop that property, and we have a lot of non-Indigenous capital funds that are interested in developing. So there will be a lot of great partnerships.”
The Kapyong barracks have been sitting vacant since 2004 when the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry was relocated to Shilo, Man., and for much of the last 17 years, the property was at the middle of a long drawn out court battle. In 2007, Treaty 1 First Nations brought a successful case against the federal government, claiming it had failed to consult the parties on the future of the site. In 2015, the federal government decided not to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court and begin consultations with Treaty 1.
Glenn Hudson described the recent action on the Kapyong file and the co-operation between the federal government and First Nations as fulfilling the intent of Treaty 1 and said there is a good working relationship between the parties involved.
“We need to change the way things have been done in the past, that’s why we come here to acknowledge the life breathing into our treaties, the repatriation of our lands, and to create a prosperous and new outlook for our country,” Hudson said.
In the coming weeks, demolition on the Kapyong site will begin by the Department of National Defence, officials say, and is expected to be completed over two years.
Carr said people living near Kapyong should also expect to be involved in the development process in the coming months.
“They’ll have every opportunity to talk to people about their vision, their dream, there will be every opportunity for the community to meet with the developers, the same approvals that would be needed for any developer would be needed here, in negotiations with the city of Winnipeg,” Carr said.
“We will build this neighborhood together in partnership, with the shared understanding of the aspirations we have for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
-Article courtesy of DANIELLE DA SILVA – SOU’WESTER