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This article was published 27/4/2018 (634 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Treaty 1 First Nations set to take over Kapyong Barracks say they’re working to expedite the allocation of land to the city and federal government, while they continue to develop a plan for an urban reserve on their portion of the long-dormant south Winnipeg site.
The consortium is hoping to get the four acres needed to widen Kenaston Boulevard into the city’s hands before October’s municipal election.
"It’s our No. 1 priority right now, to resolve the Kenaston issue," said Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches, speaking on behalf of the seven First Nations that make up the Treaty 1 group.
In addition, sources say the Department of National Defence will direct Canada Lands Co. — the Crown agency that oversees development of former government properties — to install a museum or memorial of some type honouring the site’s military history on the 50 acres CLC will eventually control.
The DND also confirmed the first stage of demolition of some of the dilapidated facilities on site is set to begin within days and go on until November.
Multiple sources involved in the ongoing talks between Treaty 1 and the military say the two released a vague agreement-in-principle April 11 after frantic 11th-hour negotiations in a last-minute effort to preserve progress; band-council elections could alter the composition of leadership within the partnership.
"That’s always a concern, that there’s a big change and maybe a change in direction in where a First Nation wants to go," Meeches said.
The city’s Route 90 planning team is organizing a meeting next month "to share introductory information" with Treaty 1, CLC and the provincial Indigenous and Northern Relations ministry.
That meeting will be the first of many, "to ensure that there are no major impacts to their interests for the area, and to engage with them throughout the entire study," wrote public works engineer Vaibhav Banthia in a statement.
Meeches said the group is aiming to get "some kind of an agreement in place" before the Oct. 24 civic vote.
"We hope to move quick on getting a general understanding of what we intend to do with the city on it," he said, adding whether the land will be sold or traded is still up in the air.
The first phase of demolition will involve tearing down 13 of the 40 buildings on the site, as well as "the abatement of any hazardous building materials," DND spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande wrote in an email.
"We are now working to establish project and tender timelines for the second phase of demolition work. All demolition work is expected to be completed within two years."
Phase 2 will be much more extensive. In the end, "All buildings, internal roadways, surface parking areas, curbing, and some underground utilities on the land will be removed/decommissioned to clear the site," Lamirande wrote.
Sources said that all residences will be removed from the site, while some of the halls and sports facilities might remain and instead have safety hazards removed, depending on the plans outlined in the negotiations.
Fences were erected on parts of the property near Lipsett Hall at Kenaston and Grant Avenue this week, though it’s not known whether they’re connected to demolition.
The Phase 1 contract was awarded in March to Shawn Anderson Demolition and Construction, based in Rossendale, near Portage la Prairie. The firm won with a bid of $2.6 million; the tender pegged the work at $4.2 million.
This contract tendering used Ottawa’s Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business, which means the firm must be majority-owned by Indigenous people, and at least one-third of its employees must be Indigenous if it has six or more full-time staff.
Meeches said there is widespread enthusiasm on both sides for something that would highlight the military’s history and the role of First Nation soldiers. He’d like to see an "Indigenous war museum."
He said he met with CLC Tuesday to discuss that idea and map out what steps would need to be taken. That involves seeing what amount of "buy-in from different interest groups" they could secure, Meeches said. "No decision has been made; everything’s preliminary."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted the Kapyong deal as a major part of the government’s "nation-to-nation" relationship.
"This agreement is a concrete step on the path to reconciliation and renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples. We will continue working with the Treaty 1 First Nations to develop a final settlement agreement," he told the Commons.
That agreement would likely finalize any outstanding details.
Updated on Friday, April 27, 2018 at 7:44 AM CDT: Amends reference to sources