Kapyong Barracks redevelopment plan unveiled Thursday

The long-awaited final plan for the former Kapyong Barracks site is being unveiled Thursday morning after thousands of people provided feedback on the initial concept.

“This level of engagement is exciting,” said Chris Elkey of Canada Lands Co., a Crown corporation that is developing about 20 hectares of the 65-hectare site along Kenaston Boulevard.

The rest of the abandoned military base is being developed by the Treaty 1 Development Corp. on behalf of the seven Treaty 1 First Nations that officially took over the site in August 2019 after years of court delays.

Development renderings for the site, released last year, showed plans for commercial and residential buildings, a sports complex, a hotel, a convention centre and a gas station.

Surveys, a virtual presentation and in-person information sessions in Winnipeg and First Nation communities were then held to gather reaction.

“The response has been outstanding,” Elkey said.

This graphic shows the plan for redevelopment of the Kapyong site. (Kapyong)

There was strong support for the redevelopment project, with 74 per cent of respondents saying the project is headed in the right direction. Just three per cent disagreed with the plans. 

“Most striking about the advice offered was the consistency in views,” said Whelan Sutherland, CEO of Treaty One Development.

“As a key priority, those who participated want us to create a community that will be well integrated with the surrounding neighbourhoods.” 

People strongly support a mixed-use village concept to ensure the community includes places to live, shop, work and learn, said Elkey.

“In the village area, it’s really about that ground floor retail and service type of experience with residential condos above, and it creates a bit of a feel,” he said.

“It creates opportunities for shopping and working, but also just a place to visit and hang out.”

The responses also pushed for more green space and accessible transportation options for bus, cyclists and pedestrians, he said.

As a result, more usable green and open spaces have been added across the site, along with walking and cycling paths that link with Winnipeg’s active transportation network.

Demolition of the former Kapyong Barracks began in 2018. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Some housing has been adjusted from medium to low-density, based on input from neighbours in single-family homes in Tuxedo.

A cultural campus area has been added to ensure inclusion of public art and design elements that reflect Treaty 1 cultures and history, and there are also plans for a possible war museum to honour the history of the site, Elkey said.

The next step is for technical teams to create transportation, storm water and waste water plans for inclusion in the site’s master plan, which will then be sent for review by the City of Winnipeg. 

Kapyong was mostly abandoned in 2004, when the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry moved from the military barracks to the Canadian Forces Base in Shilo, Man., about 180 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Soon afterwards the Department of National Defence declared the property as surplus.

The barracks site, when it was abandoned, contained 41 deteriorating buildings, including sleeping quarters, an officers’ mess and administration space. (CBC)

The federal Treasury Board transferred the entire 65 hectares to Canada Lands Co. to oversee the land’s redevelopment and resale, but several First Nations challenged that in federal court, saying they had a right to the land under outstanding treaty land entitlement claims.

The court agreed, and in 2009 the land transfer was ruled illegitimate. The federal government fought the decision until 2015, when then-prime minister Stephen Harper announced that the government would no longer continue to appeal the decision.

The barracks site contained 41 deteriorating buildings, including sleeping quarters, an officers’ mess and administration space. Demolition began in summer 2018.