The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and English River First Nation (ERFN), through their economic development arm Des Nedhe Group, announced financial close on a $27.3 million financing agreement. The CIB is extending the loan towards a new wastewater treatment facility and critical infrastructure on ERFN’s Grasswoods Urban Reserve near Saskatoon.

The new facility will ensure Grasswoods Urban Reserve has the infrastructure necessary to enable long-term community growth.

“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. 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,” said Ehren Cory, CEO, Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Once the wastewater treatment infrastructure is completed in 2024, the facility will advance the transition away from septic wastewater systems, reducing environmental impacts and supporting sustainable growth. Its additional capacity will also allow Des Nedhe Group to provide wastewater treatment services to the neighbouring rural municipality of Corman Park, along with employment and training opportunities for First Nations community members.

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

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Des Nedhe Group is currently developing ERFN’s 135-acre Grasswoods Urban Reserve, which will allow the community to lease the desirable land to commercial partners.

“Innovative business ventures like the one we’re creating between Des Nedhe Group, English River First Nation and our partners have the power to not just drive revenue in the short term, but most importantly, support long-term self-determination for the community. At Grasswoods Urban Reserve, we’re leading the way with progressive environmental technologies and creating a sustainable future where economic success and environmental stewardship go hand in hand,” said Sean Willy, president and CEO, Des Nedhe Group.

By tapping into the CIB’s Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative, ERFN can access affordable capital to accelerate and future-proof their community. ERFN, through Des Nedhe Group, will own and operate the facility, with initial operations and training led by Saskatchewan Water Corporation (SaskWater).

 

Featured image: Construction of the Grasswoods urban reserve water treatment facility. (CNW Group/Canada Infrastructure Bank)

 

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