Regina city council to consider deal on sale of laneway crossing site of future Indigenous health centre

Cowessess First Nation is one step closer to opening an urban Indigenous health centre in Regina.

Administration recommends selling land to Cowessess First Nation for $1

Chief Cadmus Delorme sits in a chair wearing a white shirt and colourful tie as he speaks with CBC News.
On Wednesday, Chief Cadmus Delorme from Cowessess First Nation spoke via video with members of Regina's executive committee. He briefly talked about the community's plans for an Indigenous health centre in Regina. (Alexander Quon/CBC)

Cowessess First Nation is one step closer to opening an urban Indigenous health centre in Regina.

The nation plans to build the facility on land it owns in the city, located on a block between Albert Street and Angus Street, and Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue.

However, the city still owns a laneway that runs right through the middle of that block.

On Wednesday, city councillors discussed the potential sale of the laneway — around 10,011 square feet of land — to the First Nation for $1.

"This situation is unique," said Barry Lacey, executive director of financial strategy and sustainability.

"The lane is completely surrounded by Cowessess-owned land, and so there's no other adjacent land owner that would have an interest in that property. And secondly, just given the nature of it, even if there was interest, it would be very difficult to develop by someone else."

If approved by city council, the lane would become part of the First Nation's urban reserve, he said.

Some nearby parcels have already been designated as urban reserve, while others are intended for future reserve status, according to a report by city administration.

Members of the city's executive committee voted in favour of the administration's recommendation on Wednesday, meaning the decision on whether to sell the lane to Cowessess for $1 is going to city council for a final vote.

Cowessess plans urban Indigenous health centre

Cowessess has already purchased the rest of the land in that spot, said Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme during the city's executive committee meeting. 

The First Nation is at the final stages of setting up an urban Indigenous health centre — which will be open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — in the North Central neighbourhood, said the chief.

"Think of it like First Nations University of Canada," said Delorme.

"It is higher learning, but it is higher learning from an Indigenous worldview perspective."

On Wednesday, Regina's executive committee discussed a plan to sell a back lane in North Central to Cowessess First Nation for $1. City council is scheduled to vote on the recommendation on Dec. 7, 2022. (City of Regina)

The urban Indigenous health centre, which will eventually receive a different name, is supposed to offer primary and secondary care, said Delorme.

The First Nation is in the process of finalizing partnerships with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council to have Indigenous medicines at the future health facility, according to the chief.

"Just picture a four-storey building there that will [have an] Indigenous worldview."

The proposed health centre will be the first of its kind in Regina, according to the city's public report.

The First Nation is also working on attracting other business development to its land beside the facility along Albert Street. Cowessess would use the laneway to set up a shared parking lot, the document said.

Deal would show commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, report says

The laneway land has an estimated market value of $159,000, according to the report.

Usually when the city looks into selling some of its property, the land is made publicly available and sold at fair market value, but this would not be the case if council accepts administration's recommendation.

In addition to the $1 purchasw, Cowessess First Nation would be responsible for the legal, survey, subdivision and transfer costs, the report said.

The nation would also transfer a separate corner cut of land from its property adjacent to the lane at the corner of Albert Street and Sixth Avenue to the city for $1. 

Regina requires that area for future traffic signal upgrades and would save around $1,000 in land costs, the document said.

Barry Lacey is Regina's executive director of financial strategy and sustainability. (City of Regina)

The transaction is different from one with a private sector non-Indigenous entity, said Lacey.

"You could transfer that land to the entity that would become part of a broader block of land that that entity might for example sell at a future point in time," he said.

"This is a different situation in that it will become urban reserve and so there's not that future sale of land contemplated."

The city's commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action played another role in the recommendation, the report said. It said this transaction would remove a barrier for Cowessess First Nation to achieve their economic potential.

"It would add a lot of complication if we did not sell the lane to them," said Lacey.

"Not only would this allow Cowessess to participate, you know, more broadly in our economy with respect to some of the activity they have planned there, but I think the community more broadly also benefits."


Theresa Kliem


Theresa Kliem is a journalist with CBC Saskatoon. She is an immigrant to Canada and loves telling stories about people in Saskatchewan. Email