The details aren’t completely finalized, but plans surrounding Winnipeg’s Kapyong Barracks are finally starting to take shape.
An agreement in principle was signed Wednesday between Ottawa and Treaty One First Nations to start demolition on the land’s infrastructure.
That work would start sometime in May.
But, after more than a decade of conversation, those who were expecting a concrete answer surrounding sale of the land and future use will have to wait a little longer.
Wednesday’s announcement did not include a final Settlement Agreement, which would shape how the 65 hectares of land would be redeveloped.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr joined First Nations Chiefs at Assiniboia Downs to make the announcement about the infamous lands in between Tuxedo and River Heights.
They’ve sat vacant since 2004, when the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was relocated to Shilo.
Talks between governments and First Nations have picked up in recent years since the issue left courts in 2015.
But while there are still no finalized plans, First Nations leaders are confident a deal is forthcoming.
“This is really happening,” Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations said. “The land is coming back.”
Bellegarde said he believes Kapyong is set to be turned into an urban development area “soon”.
“This is a huge, significant day,” Sheila North-Wilson added. “We knew the land was Treaty One territory and we never lost sight of that.”
Former AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak made a point of being at the landmark event, along with about 400 others, and made reference to the urban reserve at Fort Qu’appelle in Saskatchewan.
“This will be another one to build upon to create employment and economic opportunity for all peoples here in Winnipeg,” he said. “This is really happening. Its not just words. This is an example of reconciliation in action.”
The future of Kapyong is key to the city’s planned widening of Kenaston Boulevard.
Demolition work on the 40 main buildings on is expected to take two years to complete.
Eighteen empty homes lining Kenaston Boulevard and Corydon Avenue were torn down earlier this year.