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Alberta’s newest Costco marks the first in Canada to open on First Nation land

Alberta’s newest Costco marks the first in Canada to open on First Nation land
WATCH: Calgary's newest Costco has opened on the Tsuut'ina Nation, making it the first globally to open shop on Indigenous land. And as Sarah Offin reports, there's hope it will help pave the way for a business boom.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this story said the new Costco was the first warehouse on a First Nation in North America. Costco later issued a correction, clarifying it was the first in Canada.

A new Costco location that opened in Calgary on Friday is the only one in Canada to sit on First Nation land.

The new Costco serves as the first anchor tenant in The Shops at Buffalo Run retail centre on Buffalo Run Boulevard in the Tsuut’ina Nation.

The new wholesale warehouse is 150,000 square feet and officials estimate it will service some 40,000 members.

New Costco opens on the Tsuut’ina Nation
New Costco opens on the Tsuut’ina Nation

In addition, Tsuut’ina Nation Chief Roy Whitney said at least 70 people from the First Nation were able to get jobs at the store.

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“People are very excited about the opportunity to work here and see more development,” Whitney said. “It’s a beautiful warehouse. It’s a beautiful facility inside.”

According to Whitney, the Tsuut’ina Nation has been in discussions with Costco since the late ’90s.

“This is the beginning of much more that will come … It’s a really exciting time,” he said.

The Senior Vice President of Costco Wholesale Canada for Western Canada echoed those sentiments, saying in a news release that the retailer is excited to be working with the Tsuut’ina Nation.

“With the opening of our seventh warehouse in Calgary, including the surrounding area, we can provide southwest Calgary with a more convenient shopping experience,” David Skinner said.

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The opening of the Costco was marked with the store’s usual ribbon-cutting ceremony, in addition to a traditional pipe ceremony.

Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney cuts a ribbon at the grand opening of the Southwest Calgary Costco located at The Shops at Buffalo Run.
Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney cuts a ribbon at the grand opening of the Southwest Calgary Costco located at The Shops at Buffalo Run. Global News

The Shops at Buffalo Run in Taza Exchange

The Shops at Buffalo Run, where the new Costco Warehouse is located, is part of the First Nation’s Taza development, a new retail, office and tourism district.

According to the Taza website, the development spans 1,200 acres (the size of 910 football fields) and is one of the largest First Nation development projects in North America.

Taza is situated directly adjacent to Calgary’s southwestern border, the Municipal District of the Foothills and Rocky View County.

The plan is for Taza to be split into three villages: Taza Park, Taza Crossing and Taza Exchange. The new Costco is located within Taza Exchange.

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Read more: New leadership ‘positive,’ but Lakeview residents still divided over development

Vice President of Development at Taza Development Corp. Bryce Starlight said the opening of Costco on Friday is just the beginning.

“We’ve got quite a lot of development that we’re going to be doing in the next 20 to 30 years. Obviously, this is going to be a long-term development project, but we are looking at some very exciting retailers coming to the Nation.

“There’s been a lot of work that has gone into this development from Chief and council passing laws to make commercial development possible and reasonable, right down to working with elders, with community members to ensure that we’re looking at long-term sustainability, environmental best practices and integrating the culture and the stories from the Nation into the development and into the Costco itself.”