An urban reserve near Saskatoon will be able to complete critical infrastructure and wastewater work after the English River First Nations announced a partnership agreement with the Canadian Infrastructure Bank yesterday to get work completed on the project.

The $27.3 million financing arrangement will pay for the wastewater treatment facility and other critical infrastructure projects through English River First Nation’s development arm, Des Nedhe Development, and in turn, the project will have myriad economic benefits for English River down the road.

The new facility will ensure Grasswoods Urban Reserve has the infrastructure necessary to enable long-term community growth, and once the wastewater treatment facility is complete in 2024, the facility will advance the transition away from septic wastewater systems, reducing environmental impacts and supporting sustainable growth.

The additional capacity will also allow Des Nedhe Group to provide wastewater treatment services to the neighbouring municipality of Corman Park, along with employment and training opportunities for First Nations community members.

English River First Nation vice-Chief Jenny Campbell said she was excited for the economic benefits that will come thanks to the partnership and the project’s potential.

“This unique partnership with English River First Nation, Des Nedhe Group, Corman Park and Saskatchewan Water Corporation, enabled by CIB financing, signals an important step towards economic reconciliation,” she said. “We look forward to ensuring we can advance future economic development for years to come.”

The financing is part of the CIB’s mandate to invest $35 billion over the long-term across its priority sectors, a minimum of $1 billion in partnership of that earmarked for the benefit of Indigenous Peoples.

Through the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative, the CIB is investing in community-based projects which provide a service or a direct benefit to an Indigenous community or communities to help close the infrastructure gap.

The CIB’s CEO said he was ‘proud’ that his agency is partnering with English River First Nation on the urban-reserve project.

“The CIB is proud to partner with English River First Nation and Des Nedhe Group to invest in critical infrastructure at the Grasswoods Urban Reserve. Our $27.3 million investment will accelerate construction of a new wastewater treatment facility, providing the community with the certainty they need to plan for future development,” he said. “As part of our mandate, the CIB is committed to collaborating with First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities to help deliver inclusive and sustainable infrastructure which will benefit future generations.”

By: Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter