The construction of the third First Nations-owned casino in the province is on schedule, according to project manager Todd Wilson with Graham Construction.
"Construction has moved along well throughout the summer," Wilson said. "Everything remains on schedule for a late spring completion."
Sand Hills Casino, which is being built on Swan Lake First Nation land near Highway 5 south of Carberry, has already begun to advertise senior level positions with the company.
Barbara Czech, a spokesperson for the casino, said the position of chief financial officer and human resources director are expected to be filled in January.
"We are looking for the most qualified persons," Czech said. "In the case of roughly equal qualifications, then yes, preference would be given to a First Nations person."
When it is completed, the $20-million, 31,000-square-foot casino, formerly known as the Spirits Sands Casino, will house 350 slot machines, gaming tables, a restaurant and a bar.
Crews are currently working on the steel frame of the structure and Wilson expects everything to be buttoned up in time for winter.
The long-term profits of the casino, which will be shared by all Manitoba First Nations, aren’t exactly known due to a complicated agreement between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Hemisphere Gaming, the company set to manage the casino for the first 10 years.
However, the short-term benefits could provide a major infrastructure boon for parts of Westman.
"The local utilities have really come to the table," Wilson said. "We’re actually bringing in a natural gas line now."
Natural gas to the casino could pave the way for further development to Glenboro and further south — the single largest, by population, gap in natural gas service in the province.
MTS also came to the table.
"They’ve been a great partner in negotiating bringing fibre optics down that far," Wilson said, a move that could also have implications for the region in the future.
Calls to MTS and Manitoba Hydro were not returned by press time.