Mi'kmaq look to take charge of Charlottetown green space
The Mi'kmaq Confederacy has called a meeting with interested parties to discuss its interest in the 35 hectares of green space in the centre of Charlottetown.
Agriculture Canada used the land for crop research for almost 100 years, but seven years ago decided it no longer needed the land.
While there has been a lot of discussion regarding what to do with the land since then, nothing has happened. Agriculture Canada has put an $8-million price tag on the land.
The Mi'kmaq Confederacy is now trying to make a move on the land with their own development plans.
"Unless somebody acts, unless somebody does something, nothing's going to happen," Jeff Brant of the Mi'kmaq Confederacy told CBC News Wednesday.
"We have decided to take it upon ourselves to try and bring together the people we are interested in partnering with."
Brant said First Nations have a right to urban property to generate revenue for their people. The confederacy's plans include a seniors' complex, a convention centre and leasing land to UPEI. At least half the property would remain as green space.
The Confederacy has hired urban planner Doug Olson, who specializes in controversial spaces. He sees minimal, tasteful development.
"This is a sanctuary for people. This is a resource that we won't have a chance to do it again. So we want to do it right," said Olson.
The confederacy intends to pitch its ideas to the federal government, and it wants the support of the city, the province, and other groups interested in the land.
The most prominent of those groups is Friends of the Farm, which has submitted its own plan that would see the entire space remain green.
"Essentially we would like to see it kept as green space, and a park," said spokesman Bert Christie.
"But we understand where Jeff and his group are coming from, and we had a very good discussion today, and I think we feel quite happy with the way the thing is unfolding."
Olson's plan will be ready in a month. The confederacy would like to present it to the federal government this spring, and believes it only has a chance of being accepted if there is consensus on the future of the land.