OTTAWA -- There is still hope the Kapyong Barracks dispute can be negotiated to a settlement, but the solution is no longer imminent.
More than a week ago, Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Donavan Fontaine said he was told a settlement was nearly complete to solve the years-long fight over the prime south Winnipeg real estate.
But it appears negotiations quickly fell off the rails. Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson said Friday that "because the confidentiality was breached," both First Nations and the federal government backed off.
Sources said Ottawa had offered the Treaty 1 First Nations, who are challenging the sale of the Kapyong Barracks, up to half the site's 65 hectares at the corner of Grant Avenue and Kenaston Boulevard.
Hudson would not confirm that was the offer or whether Ottawa rescinded it after the stories hit the media.
The two parties were in court last week in Winnipeg fighting the case before a judge.
The Kapyong Barracks were abandoned in 2004 when the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry unit was moved west to Shilo.
In 2007, Ottawa moved to sell the land to the Canada Lands Co. for about $8.5 million. Shortly after that, the seven Treaty 1 First Nations went to court to stop the sale, arguing they should have first crack at the land as part of treaty entitlements.
That case has been before the courts ever since. Originally, a federal judge sided with the First Nations and said Ottawa had to properly consult them before selling the property.
That decision was overturned on appeal and the case was sent back the lower court for reconsideration. That happened last week, but there is no word on when a decision might come.
Fontaine said there was nothing further to say about Kapyong this week. He and many other Manitoba chiefs were in Ottawa for a special chiefs' meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.
Hudson said just because the court case proceeded does not mean negotiations have stopped completely.
"Clearly, we've always been open to settling," he said. "There is still the option to negotiate, regardless of the court hearing."