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Kapyong Barracks on Route 90, seen in a file photo.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Kapyong Barracks on Route 90, seen in a file photo.

OTTAWA - A federal court has overturned the federal government’s decision to transfer land at the abandoned Kapyong Barracks to the government’s surplus land development arm.

Judge Douglas Campbell issued his ruling Wednesday, saying the federal government had not fulfilled its duty to consult with Treaty One First Nations, specifically Brokenhead and Peguis.

The decision will add additional delays to the development of the land, which has been vacant since the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry unit was moved to Shilo in 2004.

The bands want to use some or all of the 90-hectare parcel for housing, educational facilities and native-owned enterprises to help lift their people out of poverty.

Canada Lands had planned to turn the property into an innovative housing and business development. But the corporation, a Crown arm of the government that buys, develops and sells Crown-owned land no longer needed by the government, closed up its Winnipeg office because of the court challenge.

The Treaty One First Nations filed their claim arguing they had a stake in the land under the government’s treaty land obligations to them when surplus land becomes available.

Under treaty land entitlement deals, bands can select surplus provincial property or buy surplus federal land. In this instance Peguis and Brokenhead both claimed treaty rights to buy the land at Kapyong.

The federal government argued the bands don’t have real rights to Kapyong because the government had already paid the bands money in lieu of land and their treaty land entitlements were at an end.

Campbell dismissed the federal claim, said they still have an entitlement and therefore should have consulted.

Manitoba Liberal MP Anita Neville said the government at this point has two choices - it can appeal the decision or it can start the process over and consult with the First Nations.

Neville’s riding includes the land in question and she said this decision is going to be a huge disappointment to the residents in the area and will also have serious implications for development in southwest Winnipeg and municipal planning.

Some of the land involved was to be used to widen Kenaston Boulevard and help improve traffic flows to the area, which is of particular interest as more homes are built in Waverley West.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca