Urban Reserve Plans

Naache Commons, located directly north of Ma Murray Elementary School on the West Bypass Road and 105th Avenue.

Since 2009, DRFN has been actively working at meeting the community’s goal of creating an Urban Reserve within the municipality of Fort St. John.  An urban reserve is “land within or adjacent to an urban municipality that has been set apart by the federal Crown for the use and benefit of a First Nation”.

Historically, the lands encompassed by the City of Fort St. John were the traditional gathering and use areas of the ancestors of the Tsaa? che ne dane people.  Chief Trevor Makadahay has been quoted as saying, “We never left Gat Tah Kwą̂, we are just coming home”. 

DRFN purchased three parcels of land in Fort St. John that will be the Gat Tah Kwą̂ reserve.  In order to have land transfer from fee simple to reserve, DRFN submitted an application to Indigenous Services Canada through the Additions to Reserve process

DRFN has worked closely with the City of Fort St. John to complete the following documents to support reserve creation:

  • 2010 Memorandum of Understanding
  • 2020 Memorandum of Understanding
  • 2021 Municipal Services Agreement

Our relationship with the City of Fort St. John has been an important one to support each other in improving the overall quality of life and wellbeing for all residents within our communities.

Benefits

Urban reserves will provide positive economic and social benefit to DRFN and to the City of Fort St. John.  The City of Fort St. John will benefit from:

  • Increased revenue from developments within the municipality
  • Increased demand for professional services during developments
  • Positive impact on local real estate market
  • Ability to collaborate, partner and cost share with DRFN on municipal services

“The creation of Urban Reserves in Saskatoon has resulted in benefits to the City in the capacity of financial, political and social advantages. Financially, the city benefits directly from revenue generated through services it provides to Urban Reserve developments and indirectly from taxation revenue and job creation generated by off-reserve spin-offs. Politically, the creation of reserves within Saskatoon has created positive relationships between First Nations and the City. Socially, Urban Reserves within the City stand as a symbol that First Nations people are making a positive contribution to the community.”

Evelyn Peters
Department of Geography
University of Saskatchewan
Draft prepared for the National Centre for First Nations Governance
August 2007

The benefit of the Gat Tah Kwą̂ reserve for DRFN will be:

Economic

  • More potential for self-generating revenue than on rural reserve lands
  • Increased employment opportunities for DRFN members
  • Creation of an environment for the successful development of DRFN owned businesses
  • Capitalizing on both rural and urban economies with diversified land holdings
  • Access to wider markets, high-income consumers, more skilled labour and lower transportation costs than on the rural reserve

Social and Political Impacts

  • A central location for DRFN government, businesses and organizations to operate
  • Reduced dependence on federal government funding
  • Raised standard of living for our members
  • Increased ability to meet social, health and education needs within the urban area
  • Improved cultural integration within the community of Fort St. John

Our priority development will be the 8 acres of land across from the Ma Murray Elementary School.  This development is called “Naache Commons” after the Dreamers and the Spirit of Naachine.

“Naache Commons represents a legacy development for DRFN as the first Urban Reserve in northeastern BC. As a future neighbourhood centre, envisioned land use activities will result in seamless transitions between adjacent neighborhoods, exemplify high quality development, feature Dane- zaa cultural elements and include environmentally sustainable features where appropriate. Naache Commons represents our Nation’s return to our ancestral Fort St. John Beaver Band lands and a path forward towards financial self-sufficiency and prosperity.”

Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles were also established to compliment and help advance this vision:

Consistency |

Future land use and development activities will be consistent with the direction of local land use bylaws and policies and reflect a seamless transition between adjacent neighborhoods.

Sustainability |

Development of Naache Commons will consider environmental impacts, energy efficient building practices and innovative stormwater management practices where suitable.

Financial Responsibility |

Investments in developing Naache Commons will only be conducted if proven to yield financial returns, ensuring investment is met with profitable returns.

Safety |

Naache Commons will be developed and uses located at the site conducted in a safe and secure manner.

Cultural |

Naache Commons will enable DRFN to showcase its cultural identity in an urban setting and its future development will feature designs that include cultural elements.

Community Support |

Community engagement and decision-making continues to be a priority for DRFN and its governance system. Members will be continually engaged through future design, construction and operational phases of Naache Commons.



View from urban reserve land purchased by DRFN in Old Fort, BC, 2019.