Construction is underway for the first phase of the Goodstoney Meadows, a transformative development in the commercial area adjacent to the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino.
The Goodstoney First Nation celebrated its launch on July 11. In the background, construction was already underway.
The Meadows is strategically located at a critical junction between Kananaskis, Canmore, and Calgary, providing a convenient stop for travellers on the Trans-Canada Highway and potentially tapping into the vibrant Indigenous tourism industry.
The initial four-acre development will include two buildings and over 100 parking spots. They'll accommodate a gas bar, convenience store, take-out area and drive-thru, four retail locations, huge public washrooms, outdoor food court. and a nearby playground.
The aim is to provide a comfortable place to stop for a bite to eat or utilize the drive-thru if you're on the run, use washrooms, and allow children to burn off some energy in the playground.
A sky tipi will draw attention to the location without overburdening the night sky. It will be formed by a series of eight spotlights from the rooftop of one of the buildings to form a large teepee that can be seen from a significant distance. Approval has already been proved by Transport Canada.
They'll also be meeting space and offices upstairs in one of the buildings.
Further development opportunities are being explored for the other four acres of the site.
The beautiful weather enjoyed at the launch was viewed as a good sign that this project is going to be a success, and was further amplified by the eagle soaring high above.
"We've been planning this for the last three years," says Goodstoney Chief Clifford Poucette, clearly proud of what's about to unfold and the cultural component it will include. "It's going to provide opportunities for the future generations. They're going to be running it."
Alberta Indigenous Relations minister Rick Wilson liked what we saw and encouraged the Goodstoney to apply for a grant available through the Aboriginal Business Investment Fund. He says the fund is ideal for projects of this nature.
Chiniki Chief Aaron Young praised the development and says there's nothing wrong with competition. He drew a laugh by reminding people the best service station was the Chiniki station.
"We'll all come together, we'll all work together, keeping in mind that we are here to serve our public. Not only that, but to show who we are, what we can do, and what we have done to share the common ideologies that we share as we try to find balance in our lives that is to seek, to find, and to share."
Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung was among the speakers and praised Goodstoney and the Stoney Nakoda Nation.
"Your children and your nation can prosper from this in the future because when Stoney Nakoda is prosperous and successful, our region is successful. Cochrane can help share in that, and I would love to be, and continue to be, a partner in your success."
The location has historical significance to the Stoney Nakoda people.
A natural gathering place for the Stoney Nakoda people since time immemorial, Goodstoney Meadows was a traditional spring meeting place for Stoney families and clans returning from winter camp. Here they enjoyed meeting again after the long cold, winter months, coming together as a community to feast, tell stories, and celebrate the arrival of spring and the warm Chinook winds.
The Meadows was also the site of horseracing, sports day events, and many ceremonies.