Kapyong Barracks closer to development with community discussion
JENNIFER DOERKSEN, CONTRIBUTOR
The land currently occupied by Kapyong Barracks may soon become Canada’s largest urban reserve.
“We’re not that far off from striking a deal,” said Chief Dennis Meeches, chief of Long Plain First Nation. Meeches is a member of the panel overseeing the development plans of the land.
A forum hosted by Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) on Nov. 5 invited community members of Tuxedo and River Heights to discuss the plans. People had an opportunity to ask questions about converting Kapyong into an urban reserve.
Some students are excited about the urban reserve moving forward.
“It would be super interesting to go there and see how they live,” said Bella Derksen, 23.
The audience asked how the space would be used, how taxes will would, and how development would happen. Treaty Commissioner Jaime Wilson fielded questions after sharing what he knows about the future of Kapyong.
“This is finally an opportunity for First Nations to contribute economically to Canada,” Wilson said. “The best name I have heard from it is an ‘indigenous business improvement zone.’”
Even some of the most skeptical residents find the business aspect of the urban reserve appealing.
“The placement is probably not the best, but any business wouldn’t be bad,” said Manny Berkal-Sarbit, an RRC student living in the area. He said he still didn’t think low-income housing should be placed in Tuxedo.
People were also curious about legal differences of the reserve, including how they would pay municipal taxes and whether city bylaws would apply.
Harry Finnigan, former City of Winnipeg head planner and consultant on the Kapyong project said bylaws would be respected within the community.
“A lot depends on the economy, but people are chomping at the bit to make something happen,” Finnigan said.
Madison Reserve near Polo Park pays a grant to the city in lieu of taxes, Meeches said. Many questions about the Kapyong project were answered through the examples of existing urban reserves.
There are over 200 urban reserves in Canada today. Saskatchewan has 54 of them while Manitoba has three, according to Wilson.
The reserve would see 160 acres of land along Kenaston Boulevard, a mix of residential and commercial developments, though its exact boundaries are unknown.
Wilson said responses to the Kapyong project have been more positive.
“Last time we did this, it was full. I think people’s anxiety about the situation was significantly alleviated,” said Wilson.
More events regarding the Kapyong project are expected in the coming months.