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Feb. 1, 2021

Whelan Sutherland on the former Kapyong Barracks and the First Nation Urban Economic Development Zone

Whelan Sutherland on the former Kapyong Barracks and the First Nation Urban Economic Development Zone

Whelan Sutherland is Chief Executive Officer of Treaty One Development Corporation and a proud member of Peguis First Nation. In this episode we talk about the former Kapyong Barracks 160 acre project, nearby property values, and community benefits of wh...


Whelan Sutherland is Chief Executive Officer of Treaty One Development Corporation and a proud member of Peguis First Nation. In this episode we talk about the former Kapyong Barracks 160 acre project, nearby property values, and community benefits of what has been historically referred to as an Urban Reserve.

Transcript

Adrian:

I'm joined today by Whelan Sutherland on the I love Winnipeg real estate podcast. Welcome Whelan.

Whelan:

Hey, good to be here. Thank you so much.

Adrian:

What is your role in the overall former Kapyong Barracks development?

Whelan:

Well, I'm currently the chief executive officer, so I oversee the Treaty One Development Corporation. T1DC, as we like to call it. My primary focus is to, since our inception in 2018, is basically just to organize our communities and then create that unified front and be able to position us to develop the property. So a lot of exciting things. And then there's another faction, which is our Treaty 1 Nation and the nation there is designed to create our governance structure, to implement our constitution and basically give the ability of our Treaty 1 First Nations to work well. And in unison with each other.

Adrian:

Now, I think the street name for this it's called an urban reserve, but I believe you've come up with a more sophisticated term. How are you referring to this?

Whelan:

Well, we call it an urban economic development zone. And again, just addressing the elephant in the room. There are some negative connotations that have developed and we see it all over the place. I mean, with any development, I'm sure that you, as a developer have run into, negative comments and things like that. And the way that we're combating it is through information. So we've found, and we're very, very fortunate that it is a very prime real estate property. And with the proper information, we've changed a lot of minds already. So I'm very proud of that.

Adrian:

And are there other organizations involved with it or is it just treaty 1 and it's organizations attached?

Whelan:

No, there are 160 acres in total. 50 of those acres have been allotted to Canada Lands Company. And with Canada Lands, we have a really good relationship with them. I'm sure, for those of you that don't know, they're Canada's developer. And what we liked about them is, they're well capitalized. They have a good track record and they've developed properties and increased the value of those properties. So that adds a lot of confidence for us as new players in the game to come out. So we do have a really, really good, strong relationship with them. And our primary focus right now for the development is below grade. So we're working with them. We are partnered with them to ensure that all the facilities have water and sewer and anything else that's required to address those areas.

Adrian:

On a high level overview perspective. Perhaps bird's-eye view, what kind of things can the community expect to see on the development or on the land in the near future?

Whelan:

Well, you know, I've got to speak a little vaguely. It's going to be multi-use for sure. Right now we do have, and we are finalizing our master plan. It should be unveiled, the final draft, unveiled to the general public end of February. And with that, I mean we're looking at retail, commercial and philanthropic. I mean, we want community events to happen in the facility. We were very happy to announce that we're working with the University of Manitoba's architect students and they've donated their time to be able to work with us on developing the green spaces in that area. There are retention ponds and we want to make it a very fine place to come and live, play, eat, shop and just enjoy the general environment.

Whelan:

So we do have a plan which we're going to unveil. We have been working on block A. For the folks out there, but if you visit our website, you'll be able to see it. The breakdown block A, B, C, D, and E. And right now block A is primarily our development. And as developers, as Treaty 1, our main focus there is to develop that area. And for the benefit of our Treaty One communities.

Adrian:

For expected timeline, when would the first physical building be erected?

Whelan:

Well, I mean, going back again at the very, very high bird's eye view level, we're we were making a few assumptions. I mean, obviously are 150 year anniversary is coming up for... well the anniversary on August 3rd, 2021, 150 years since the signing of the original Treaty 1. So we wanted to have a major announcement at that time. And soon thereafter put shovel to ground and depending on the size and scope of the building, if it's 10 months to 13 months of build time, then 2022 we want to be open for business and addressing and providing any products or services to our community members. And I mean, community members in general.

Adrian:

When we say multi-use just to give listeners a bit of a perspective. Multi-use developments, especially within cities can contain obviously multiunit, single family, residential as well as retail and office commercial. And then open spaces, community spaces. Obviously this is a critical part of the city. And from the residential perspective, would one expect to see rental residential or condominium residential?

Whelan:

It depends. It's going to be market-driven. Right? So for block A, we do have something scheduled in regards to addressing residential issues. But that'd be primarily focused on in our positioning right now is looking at apartment facilities. Because again, it's going to be open for the general public and we want to make sure that it addresses the needs. The good thing, what I will say is this is all based on feedback that we received from some of the information sessions that we have. We have a podcast as well, and we have a Messenger's Show that we have on Facebook. And we do a Messenger's radio show and NCI FM. And we did have an information session and we had about 600 people attend at the site last year. And we had questionnaires. And some of the questionnaires that we received again at the beginning, people were very, very honest in their feelings. And what they required was a lot of information. So once we did and address that we had another questionnaire and it actually changed the minds of people.

Adrian:

Does someone have to be First Nations to live on the property or to work on the property?

Whelan:

Absolutely not. No. It's an urban economic development zone. And if you look at other key strategic areas throughout Canada, using Saskatchewan as an example, they have 61. I think there's 66 now, urban economic development zones operating and-

Adrian:

Thriving.

Whelan:

... thriving. And we went to our good friends, Tsuu T'ina, give a shout out to Tsuu T'ina First Nation in Alberta. And the story behind that is they're positioned, I think it was 14 kilometers away from Fort Calgary, a long, long time ago. And Calgary grew, grew, grew and it grew around them. And there was a ring road similar to the perimeter highway that was required for the city of Calgary. Went right to their property, as opposed to have taking a stance where you know you cannot do that on a property. They embraced it and they developed it. And now it's a mutually beneficial. It meets the needs of the city of Calgary and for Tsuu T'ina, what they negotiated was entrances and egresses off the site. And now they just opened up the first Costco on an urban economic development zone in Canada.

Adrian:

So such a zone really gets fully integrated and woven into the fabric of the community as a whole. It is not squared off in it's own. It becomes part of the community very rapidly. Is that a fair statement?

Whelan:

It is absolutely a fair statement. It's integrated right into the pros... The average person will never know unless you check your history. You'll understand a little bit more in regards to understanding the differences in the land, but for the average person coming in to shop, they'll never know.

Adrian:

Yeah. What are the primary benefits to the community as a whole?

Whelan:

Well, you know what, I'll start off with the city of Winnipeg. Obviously, we were looking at this as an economic stimulant to the city of Winnipeg. I mean, they're obviously going to be municipal services that they're going to be collecting. Again, that's something that we're very committed to because you need services, you need emergency, you need water, sewer, all that good stuff. So we're in the process of doing that and an economic zone in general. We want people to come there and work. We want businesses. There's lease opportunities there. So anybody, if you have a good idea and we're positioned as developers. We work with you and either develop the site for you or figure out a way to bring your business idea forward. So it's open to everybody. It's not just segregated to First Nations, it's going to be open to anybody.

Adrian:

I personally live four or five blocks away from the former Kapyong Barracks land. We actually regularly go for walks and bike rides right around there. Actually right now, I think we may be unlawfully biking through the land. I'm not sure what the rules are, but it's okay. Some neighboring residents wrongly assume that this development would negatively affect their property values. What evidence can be offered to counter that assumption?

Whelan:

Information. I mean, doing due diligence and research on other urban economic development zones. You could use a member to First Nation. The property values are far from it, the property values have increased because of the economic drivers that are associated with their developments. As well as Tsuu T'ina. They have an above market lease rate for their properties and they're getting it.

Whelan:

And so in general, I mean, it's far from the truth because at the end of the day, it's our planning. That's why we're sharing so much information with the general public. And that's how we changed minds already. We had some stats done up, there was a high percentage of people that didn't understand. And so they took a negative stance, assuming the stereotypes of First Nation urban reserves. And once we started sharing information and they had access to our plans and our master plan and all that good stuff, it actually changed mines. So we're in the single digits now in regards to the negative feedback that we're receiving.

Adrian:

And forgive if it's politically incorrect, but I would say that before it was First Nation land. And it certainly is again, now what it was in between, while it was being used by government. But I would argue that you have a high level of appreciation for land for the country, for nature. You mentioned green space. And I guess given that this is a First Nation project, can you elaborate what the community can see perhaps or what could they could hope to expect in green space and in maintaining a natural element to the development?

Whelan:

Yeah. Well, first and foremost, again, I want to give a shout out to the team. I mean, it's not just a one person show there's a lot of people working hard. I got to give kudos to our leadership, our communities, as well as our team in general for working with us and really pushing the agenda forward. So with that, again, going back to the information and due diligence that we have been conducting. And feedback from the neighborhood in the area, Tuxedo, as well as everybody in the general vicinity and ensuring that those green spaces are fully utilized. And there's a functionality from a business perspective for them like the retention ponds. There's a reason why they're there. However, they could be beautiful. They could be a place for people to go and sit and feed the ducks or the geese or whatever's swimming in the pond.

Whelan:

And really at the end of the day the average person can say, well, those are lost leaders. Well, not for us. Those are drivers for us. We want to make sure that people will come and walk and enjoy nature. One of our staff, Tim Daniels, there one of my colleagues, he was working with our knowledge keepers and the knowledge keepers to the average person is an elder person. And some of the feedback is, let's incorporate some of our traditional medicines and trees. So you're going to see grass, different types of grasses there. You're going to see maybe cedar trees and things like that. So really capturing the essence and honoring our indigenous culture while making a nice environmentally friendly green space that does provide a functionality. But in essence, it addresses the issues of people not just wanting a bricks and mortar.

Adrian:

Yeah. It will not just be a cement jungle.

Whelan:

It will not be a cement jungle. It will be very, very integrated. And that's why this master plan. Again, there's so many people that I could thank, it'd be a long list. However, the master plan, we took very, very seriously. And we put a lot of work, time and effort into it and a lot of feedback, but COVID. I mean, that's why we're probably doing this right now, but COVID has really affected us, but we've adapted, we're resilient. We adapted to the environment and we've been addressing issues and concerns through these types of mediums and they've been working well.

Adrian:

In every episode, we try to close by asking, what do you love about Winnipeg real estate? But for you better yet, what do you love about having a First Nation urban economic development zone in Winnipeg?

Whelan:

And there's two things to that. One is I love the openness of the city of Winnipeg. They do recognize that it is coming and embracing it. That was the main thing. And providing us that open dialogue to be able to discuss and address issues if there are, and then work it out. At the end of the day, we're here for the betterment of the city of Winnipeg. We're primarily here as well to better our First Nation economic development in our communities. But I really, really enjoy the resiliency of the city of Winnipeg. I love it. I live in the city, I live in the heart of Winnipeg, in Transcona. And I'm a Jets fan. But overall, we recognize the importance of unity and working together and that's why we're here. We want to make sure that at the end of the day, we're building a place, like I said earlier, where people would come live, play, shop and do whatever it is. And it will be that place, the place to be.

Adrian:

Whelan, I think that the city is blessed to have such a project going on. I am grateful that you spent this time with us and for people who want to learn and educate themselves on this, where can they find information?

Whelan:

Yeah. They can visit us on our website triple w, treaty, the number one. So the number one dot ca. So www.treaty2.ca. We have a whole slew of information. You could find out about who we are. You could find out and be briefed on all the Messengers, radio shows and newsletters that we have out to the general public. And there's links there to Canada Lands Company. You could click on our website, there's a link there directly to Canada Land. So you could learn more about them and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter Treaty One Development Corporation. And yeah, so that's the best ways to keep track of us. And there are links there as well. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, you could send us an email and it will be addressed.

Adrian:

Thank you again, that was Whelan Sutherland, CEO of Treaty One Development Corporation, partner in and lead in the former Kapyong Barracks development in Winnipeg. Thanks again.

Whelan Sutherland

Chief Executive Officer of Treaty One Development Corporation

Whelan is a proud member of Peguis First Nation; who has played a lead role in a wide variety of Indigenous business ventures over the past 15 years, as a CEO, manager and entrepreneur.

Since leaving the Chief Peguis Investment Corporation in 2012, he’s been involved in the business end of the Treaty 1 organization and management. He is a graduate of the Asper School of Business in Winnipeg. “I look forward to working with our communities, our leaders and our partners towards a brighter future for our Nation.”