Can an urban reserve work in Winnipeg? That question was up for discussion Wednesday at the University of Winnipeg.

First Nations groups would like to take over the land at the site of the old Kapyong Barracks and turn it into an urban reserve.

Organizers of the talk say an urban reserve in Saskatoon has been successful.

The mayor of Saskatoon and a councillor for the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, which runs the Saskatoon urban reserve, were in Winnipeg Wednesday for the discussion.

The urban reserve in Saskatoon has been in operation since around 1988 and has 20 businesses, employing about 400 people.

“We make about $9 million a year from those businesses,” said Harry Lafond, a councillor from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.

"We've got people from our community going to university, going to technical schools and building a future and vision for themselves," he said.

Saskatoon’s mayor said the urban reserve has been beneficial.

"You can drive from city property on to an urban reserve, pull in, fill gas, get your dry cleaning, dentist, go to a doctor - do all these things its all seamless, there are no walls,” said Donald Atchison, mayor of Saskatoon.

Treaty commissioner James Wilson said allowing Winnipeggers to hear success stories will help dispel myths about urban reserves.

“If you say urban reserve, a lot of Canadians think we're going to have sub-standard housing in Winnipeg, or lack of running water , all those problems from a remote community are going to re-located. That’s the furthest thing from the truth,” he said.

Wilson said an urban reserve will bring new development to Winnipeg.

The Kapyong Barracks land issue remains before the courts.