Treaty 1 Development Corporation and the Southern Chiefs Organization took another step toward redeveloping on historic lands after Winnipeg city council unanimously passed two tax agreements on Thursday.
“This is a huge step for Winnipeg toward reconciliation. Other cities will see it that way,” said Jolene Mercer, director of governance for Treaty 1 Development Corporation.
The first ageement will see Treaty 1 nations collect the same business and property taxes as the City of Winnipeg on Naawi-Oodena — the urban reserve at the former Kapyong Barracks.
“The agreement itself recognizes that we are a government in ourselves and that we have costs associated with that,” Mercer said during Thursday’s council meeting.
“It allows us to raise capital through taxes to cover those costs, so that we’re not always having to put in proposals or get contribution agreements from the Canadian government.”
Mercer said the development and design team for Naawi-Oodena is made up of almost all Indigenous people.
“Not only is this an opportunity for reconciliation, but it’s really an opportunity to showcase,” said Mercer.
“By approving this agreement, you’re sharing with us that opportunity to show everybody what exactly we have and what exactly we can do.”
The second agreement is with the Southern Chiefs Organization, and it details the first stages of help Winnipeg will give to redeveloping the former Hudson’s Bay building downtown.
“This project will be a legacy that each of you will be part of,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. He told council there will be a monument to residential school survivors, and for those children who died as a result of the schools.
“Following an unprecedented year with the discovery of the unmarked graves of our children who have died in residential school, now is the time to create a new future together to change the story,” he said.
“Make it about honouring the children who never made it home. Together, we can create a future that is about reconciliation — a deep reconciliation that our country can look to and that the city can be a part of.”
The agreement will see the city giving up to $9.7 million in property-tax rebates over 25 years as part of a package to assist the $135-million redevelopment of the former Bay building.
The city will also pay for streetscaping, such as sidewalk construction.
“Today was a pretty significant day in Canada and Winnipeg’s journey in reconciliation,” said Mayor Brian Bowman during a news conference.
Council also approved the inclusion of Indigenous symbols in the chamber, as well as the annual report regarding the city’s Indigenous Accord.
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