Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


Chiniki First Nation buys majority stake in Symons Valley Ranch

A recent $10 million investment into Symons Valley Ranch gives Chiniki First Nation majority ownership of the historic 12.4-hectare site located in northwest Calgary.

A press release issued by Chiniki First Nation said it now holds a 51 per cent stake in the historic site, which has been approved by the City of Calgary for high-density mixed-use development, including building over 1,500 residential units, retail and commercial.

“Chiniki is very interested in pursuing economic development opportunities for the betterment of its Nation members,” said Chiniki First Nation CEO Ryan Robb, who recently took over the role from retired CEO Brian Evans.

“Once you have more economic development opportunities and you’re making money from business perspectives, it helps you then return revenues back to address social needs or determinants in the community.”

By investing in business ventures and leveraging economic opportunities such as this and the Nation’s recent partnership agreement with Goodstoney First Nation and ATCO for the Deerfoot and Barlow solar power projects announced in September 2023, the Nation aims to create a sustainable foundation for supporting various social initiatives and improving quality of life for its members.

The $10-million investment was withdrawn from Chiniki First Nation’s capital trust account, held in trust by Ottawa.

A 2023 financial statement shows the Nation had $39.21 million held in the account as of March 31, 2023, with $12.8 million withdrawn over the course of 2022-23 and income of $3.71 million. A 2024 financial statement is not publicly available.

Redevelopment of the site, which at this stage does not have a public timeline, is expected to add housing to help address Calgary’s housing shortage.

The press release notes it’s expected to benefit Chiniki First Nation by “generating sustainable income streams” and jobs during construction and in long-term operation of the development once complete.

“It is also a chance to showcase the potential for successful partnerships between Indigenous groups and municipal authorities in achieving mutually beneficial outcomes,” states the press release.

Some community members, however, have voiced concern with the investment and say there should have been consultation by Chiniki First Nation leadership to withdraw funds from the Nation’s capital trust account.

“It seems to be that any Nation members – Chiniki, Goodstoney or Bearspaw – are only aware of things happening after the fact through a news release,” said Kenny Hunter, who is from Goodstoney First Nation – one of the three Nations that comprise Iyarhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation.

“We should start holding community band meetings to ask affected Nation members about ideas like this project.”

The Symons Valley Ranch site is located within the City of Calgary’s Glacier Ridge area structure plan adopted in 2015. Redevelopment of the site plans for 840 residential units, with potential for 680 more units in mixed-use buildings.

Proposed land uses also include a new farmers market building for Symons Valley Market, which has permanently closed, a mixed-use street corridor, commercial district and scenic public spaces and pathways.

JLL Capital Markets was retained in an order by the Alberta Court of King’s Bench as the listing agent for the property, which had an initial asking price of $33.5 million that was reduced to $30 million, according to a listing brochure.

The Outlook reached out to JLL for more information on other entities that may have purchased a stake in the property, but did not yet receive a response.

The history of Symons Valley Ranch dates back to 1968 as a hospitality facility that hosted parties and corporate events.

In 1989, a fire destroyed three banquet buildings but the property was renovated.

Another fire in 2017 swept through the farmer’s market. The former, most recent landowner was Capexco, a Calgary-based real-estate developer, which acquired the site from Durum Properties.

“This investment and development project could serve as a model for similar collaborations across Canada, highlighting the potential for Indigenous communities to play a key role in urban development projects,” states the Chiniki First Nation press release.

“It reflects a growing recognition of the value of inclusive approaches to development that respect Indigenous rights and contributions to Canada’s economic landscapes.”

View original article here Source