Kapyong Barracks deal will guide development of final settlement
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:33PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, April 11, 2018 5:56PM CST
Vacant for 14 years, a deal is now in place to kick start development on the Kapyong Barracks site.
"Give us our land, give us the opportunity and we'll show you how we can prosper as a people," said Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson.
Ottawa and seven Treaty 1 First Nations signed an agreement in principle at Assiniboia Downs Wednesday. The communities will buy 110 acres of the property; the federal government will keep the other 50.
"We are very serious about reconciliation and this is another step forward," said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Both sides entered negotiations after the Harper government discontinued a court battle with the group in 2015.
"It seemed like some days when you would go to these meetings you didn't know what you're going to walk away with," said Swan Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches.
The Treaty 1 group wants to establish an economic development zone, also known as an urban reserve.
"You are our new neighbours," said Winnipeg South-Centre Liberal MP Jim Carr.
Leadership from both sides offered reassurances to Winnipeg residents that this will benefit everyone.
"Don't be afraid, we have over 100 urban reserves in Saskatchewan," said National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
While a final settlement has yet to hammered out, Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches says he envisions condos, hotels, green space, an Indigenous war museum and cadet program for the site.
"There's a lot that can be done I think it's a billion dollar in some ways a billion dollar opportunity or more," said Meeches.
So people living on and off reserve who came to the announcement hope this will mean jobs for members of their community.
"It'll make us proud of where we were, and where were going," said Peguis First Nation member Wendy Serger.
Actual development could still be a few years away, but the chiefs are clear, widening Kenaston Boulevard is priority number one.
"I'm hoping to begin immediate discussions with the city to resolve that issue," said Chief Dennis Meeches.
Neither side would divulge the purchase price. Demolition is set to begin on the barracks buildings next month.