Meeting about Kapyong Barracks urban reserve draws hundreds

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday night to talk about the future of Kapyong Barracks, the old military base in Winnipeg that has sat empty since 2004 and remains tangled in a court battle.
Hundreds of people gathered Thursday night to talk about the future of Kapyong Barracks, the old military base in Winnipeg that has sat empty since 2004 and remains tangled in a court battle. 1:37

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday night to talk about the future of Kapyong Barracks, the old military base in Winnipeg that has sat empty since 2004 and remains tangled in a court battle.

The talk centred on turning the 159-acre site on Kenaston Boulevard into an urban reserve — and to better explain what that means.

Peguis First Nation chief Glenn Hudson said developing Kapyong Barracks into an urban reserve "represents a tremendous opportunity." (CBC)
Kapyong Barracks, the vacant former Canadian Forces base along Kenaston Boulevard, has sat empty since 2004. (CBC)
"You know we need to break down a lot of misconceptions. It's a win-win for all," said Leah Gazan, a First Nations advocate who works at the University of Winnipeg.

"It creates employment [and] it certainly would revitalize the dilapidatedKapyong Barracks."

The meeting, held at the Canadian Mennonite University, not far from the Kapyong site, was a chance for dialogue between people who live in the area and the First Nations who want the land.

"Given the issues that we're faced with today, in terms of economic job growth, it represents a tremendous opportunity," Peguis First Nation chief Glenn Hudson said about creating an urban reserve.

The Department of National Defence declared site surplus after the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was relocated to CFB Shilo near Brandon.

The federal Treasury Board tried to transfer the land to a Crown corporation known as Canada Lands Co. to oversee the land's redevelopment and resale, but a group of First Nations went to the Federal Court to block the move.

They argue that under a treaty land entitlement process, they were allowed to negotiate for federal property that has been declared surplus.

The case has been caught up in the courts ever since and the federal government has spent millions of dollars over the years to maintain the barracks property and keep it secured.

First Nations leaders have said they would prefer to sit down with the government and work out a deal, ideally towards building a mixed commercial and residential development there.

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