Deal clears way for Rockcliffe sale: MP

The redevelopment of the former CFB Rockcliffe site could be back on the table sooner than later after a four-year stall.

The Algonquins of Ontario have agreed to a financial settlement, clearing the way for the project, according to Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Belanger.

Just how much money they’re receiving isn’t known.

An Algonquin land claim dispute has been blocking the sale of the lucrative 126-hectare property —worth almost $30 million several years ago — from the Department of National Defence to the Canada Lands Company since 2007.

Belanger told the Sun he learned about the agreement three weeks ago when he went to Golden Lake to meet Chief Kirby Whiteduck of the Pikwekanagan First Nation.

But the Algonquins’ lead negotiator said “it would be a bit premature,” to call it a done deal.

“There has been an agreement reached between the CLC, DND, and the Algonquins with respect to the ultimate development of the property,” said Robert Potts, principal negotiator and senior legal counsel for the Algonquins of Ontario.

He said all parties were “very pleased” and the redevelopment will be sensitive to Algonquin interests and culture.

“There will be some commercial value as well,” Potts said.

Potts said he thinks the situation “will be a win-win.”

The old air force base near the Ottawa River once housed about 500 military families and was decommissioned in 1994, after almost 100 years of service.

The site — originally slated to close in 2011— was shut down on July 31, 2009. Chosen as one of the six original Canadian airfields, the base was sealed off in fall 2009 as demolition began.

The Sun’s calls to DND to confirm the resolution were referred to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

“There’s no settlement yet, no update,” said Genevieve Guibert, spokeswoman for INAC. “It’s still ongoing.”

Guibert referred back to a statement sent from INAC to the Sun, outlining a memorandum of understanding between Canada and the Algonquins of Ontario signed last September.

The MOU allows the future transfer of the Rockcliffe lands from DND to the CLC and will “enable the Algonquins to take advantage of future economic development opportunities on the Rockcliffe redevelopment site.”

When a final claim settlement is signed, “Canada will provide the Algonquins with financial resources enabling them to participate in the redevelopment of the site and benefit from future economic activity in the area,” the statement reads.

The site is one of Ottawa’s biggest brownfields and is close to Parliament Hill.

Geographically speaking, the site is “definitely worth a lot of money,” said Rick Seguin from Pigeon-Roy Real Estate Advisory Group.

Seguin, a commercial real estate appraiser, said because so many levels of government are involved in the project it’s hard to put a value on the land and factors such as zoning and intensification complicate things.

About five years ago, public consultations were held by the CLC.

One project, dubbed Rockcliffe Landing, saw the creation of 4,500 to 5,000 housing units, stores and offices in eight neighbourhoods.

Potts said he thinks the situation “will be a win-win.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

http://www.ottawasun.com/news/ottawa/2011/03/18/17676956.html

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