The First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) is welcoming a recent decision by Prince Albert City Council.

At a council meeting Monday afternoon Councillors voted unanimously to transfer five acres of land to FNUC for one dollar, which the university is planning to use for their new northern campus.

FNUC President Jackie Ottmann told MBC Radio News they were happy to hear about council’s unanimous decision to give them the land. Ottmann added they have been working with the city for some time.

“The relationship and negotiations have been happening for a little while now, (Monday) was an amazing day, just because of that,” she said.

The FNUC president explained the campus in Prince Albert has been seeing growing student enrollment over time, which has been outpacing enrollment at the university’s campus in Regina. Ottmann said a new campus will allow FNUC to give students a better experience while providing other opportunities which are not possible at their current location downtown.

“We need a space that is culturally strong and a space to where we can invite the community into our facility,” she said.

Currently the FNUC campus in P.A. has just under 400 students enrolled, Ottmann said they are hoping to see this number grow to at least 600 with their new campus. With the new facilities FNUC is also hoping to offer additional programming for students, such as Indigenous Child Birthing and Midwifery. Ottmann added the university will be looking to communities when it comes to developing additional programming.

“We’ll be responsive to community needs in relation to program development,” she said.

Ottmann said they are looking to make sure the campus is a net zero emissions facility, she explained this will be helpful to the university when it comes to getting a grant from the federal government, which will help to cover a large percentage of the construction costs. Along with support from the federal government, FNUC has money committed to paying for the new building and are also doing some fund raising. Right now the university is expecting the cost of the project to come in at around $35 million.

When the university makes their application to the federal government, Ottmann said they will have design plans done up and that along with having the land to build on will make the project shovel ready. Ottmann said if all goes according to plan they are hoping to break ground on the project this coming spring.

“We’re anticipating that it’ll (Construction) take two years,” she said.

Along with the increased educational options for students, which will give students from the north the ability to study closer to home, Ottmann said P.A. City Council’s unanimous vote to transfer the five acres of land to the university is an important action.

“Its just an act of reconciliation, anything that has to do with land and land transfers for in this case a dollar, its very significant,” she said.