They recently bought Greenbelt land that was undevelopable. Now the Ford government is poised to remove protections — and these developers stand to profit.
Lori-Ann Bélanger, president of the group Indigenous Youth Services, says the land the city bought is not being protected.
“They’re buying the land, they’re not protecting it — the land is coming off by the side of the highway,” she said.
The Ford government says it wants to protect the forested area.
“We are committed to ensure that Indigenous rights and title to land are protected,” Mayor John Tory said in a news release Monday. “We are also actively working to protect the natural habitat in our greenbelt and to remove the road that could potentially harm Indigenous cultural sites.”
But Bélanger says the future of the land does not fit with the Ford government’s plans.
“The government is not protecting the land, they are buying it and then they’re going to just tear it up,” she said.
The government bought the land in September for $3 million. The land is on a city-owned road between the University of Winnipeg and Greenbelt Station. It is the type of site that could be developed quickly and affordably.
The area, however, is not zoned for development yet. The city has until Aug. 22 to make a decision on the land’s future.
“The city has committed to make the land compatible to development in the first half of 2018,” said Jason Wilson, the city’s director of community development.
“We’ve consulted over a million people in the area, we’ve listened to their opinions, we’ve listened to the experts, we’ve heard from Indigenous people, we’ve heard from business, we’ve heard from local and provincial politicians. We are committed to ensuring that Indigenous rights and title to land are protected.”
The land is on the city’s southern border between University Avenue, Greenbelt, and Queen Elizabeth Way.
The city wants to see the area developed to complement the University of Winnipeg’s campus.
Bélanger says the area is not being adequately protected.
“If they buy the land and they’re not protecting it, I will have my community say no,” she says.