Why the NCC must consult with First Nations over the sale of “zibi” condo lands
As a federal body with land holdings, the National Capital Commission (NCC) knows it has a duty to consult with legitimate First Nations when it wishes to dispose of lands where Indigenous people are claiming title. Furthermore, this duty to consult is not optional, as demonstrated by a recent dispute in Winnipeg over the Kapyong Barracks.
The Department of National Defence owned the barracks, a vacant but highly valuable piece of real estate in Winnipeg’s urban core. When that department attempted to sell the land for development, legitimate First Nations in the province claimed land rights and took the federal government to court for not consulting them in the resale. The case was resolved during the recent federal election when the former prime minister agreed not to appeal the First Nations case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
How does this apply in the nation's capital city?
The NCC continues to be the kingpin in sale of so called "Domtar lands" that Windmill Development Group seeks to own and develop on Chaudiere and Albert Islands for its $1.3 billion Zibi condo proposal. The company's purchase of these lands is tied to the City of Ottawa’s rezoning of the land from parkland to commercial/residential. That rezoning remains subject of an appeal in the Ontario court system. The next court date is set for late January 2016 in Toronto.
Furthermore, a Memo of Understanding related to sale of the Domtar lands that the NCC has released through an Access to Information request specifically refers to "Aboriginal consultations" which the NCC has not yet initiated.
The NCC's responsibility in this matter is clear. In the new year, the Minister responsible for the NCC, Melanie Joly, must begin nation-to-nation talks with nine legitimate Algonquin First Nations who are claiming title to the sacred islands and waterfall site known as Akikodjiwan.