Opaskwayak is building a brighter, more affordable future for its students and others who want to live close to the University of Winnipeg. Through Opaskwayak’s economic development corporation, 69 new concrete/steel energy-efficient apartment units are coming to life, at 380 Young Street in Winnipeg. The apartments will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2024 – with over 40% of the units available below market rates.


Ginger Martin, CEO of Paskwayak Business Development Corporation (PBDC), has been instrumental in seeing this project through each stage of development from inception, financing, and the design and build phases. Martin notes, “380 Young Street is our stepping-stone into the larger commercial land development market in Winnipeg. We see land development projects as creating sustainable wealth for future generations.”


Martin oversees and directs over $100M in commercial economic development for Opaskwayak, including the operation of a large retail mall, gas stations, hotel complexes, construction, and resource extraction operations. Much of this commercial development has to date been in The Pas and on Opaskwayak’s reserve lands. “Building the apartment complex at 380 Young has allowed us to build relationships within the larger commercial development community in Manitoba,” Martin states.


One such new alliance is with Nigel Furgus, President, Paragon Design Build, its design partner on the 380 Young apartment project. The partners’ starting idea was to add value to the apartment project by scoping in amenities such as wireless, water, and efficient heating and cooling systems to maximize occupancy and net income. Through creative planning, these objectives were achieved within a conservative budget that will provide a comfortable rate of return on Opaskwayak’s investment. “The project was designed with energy-efficiency and sustainability in mind,” Nigel Furgus notes. “The project will achieve an energy efficiency of 35% more than the 2015 NECB (National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings) baseline. This is a phenomenal result and is a model for what is achievable when energy-efficiency is front and centre at the design phase.”


Pitblado Law is honoured to have done the legal work on this apartment project, from the initial stage of land acquisition, through design, financing, and the build phase. Over the past seven years, we have been privileged to work with Opaskwayak’s government and its corporations on structuring its commercial partnerships, acquisitions, and financings to maximize wealth creation and Opaskwayak’s economic legacy for future generations. Martin explains, “it’s critical that we have the right business structures and partnerships in place to take advantage of financing, procurement, and wealth generation opportunities available to First Nations. We depend on Darla Rettie, and the team of specialists at Pitblado Law to show us where the legal landmines and opportunities are.”


Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not presented as a comprehensive review of the law or as being exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. This article is not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice applicable to their own circumstances. We do not undertake any obligation to update this article to reflect changes in law that may occur in the future.