Chief Murray Clearsky (MATT GOERZEN / BRANDON SUN ARCHIVES)
Chiefs from Waywayseecappo, Rolling River and Keeseekoowenin First Nations are feeling optimistic, following a meeting with Grand Chief Derek Nepinak on the topic of establishing a casino near Brandon.
Waywayseecappo Chief Murray Clearsky said they presented their ideas to Nepinak Wednesday in Clear Lake, in hopes of convincing the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to scrap casino plans near Carberry, and instead build it near Brandon on the land owned by the three First Nations.
"Yes I am (optimistic), but then again it’ll depend on the government and it doesn’t help matters any when the (Brandon) mayor was saying she doesn’t want to see a casino at her doorstep," Clearsky said.
In Thursday’s Brandon Sun, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said having a casino on the outskirts of Brandon would not be beneficial to the city — no economic benefit, yet all of the social costs.
"I hate hearing stuff like that … due to the fact it’ll generate a lot of revenue to the city of Brandon," Clearsky said, adding there will be spinoff business to local hotels, restaurants, etc.
"Those are things she should consider before she disagrees with anything," he said.
The Spirit Sands Casino project has been in the works for years, and was originally supposed to open in 2012. Construction has not yet begun on the $40-million complex, which is to be located on Swan Lake First Nation next to Highway 5, near the communities of Carberry and Glenboro, and adjacent to Spruce Woods Provincial Park.
"It’s out of the way," Clearsky said. "I’m not going to drive 15-20 kilometres off the main road to go to a casino. There’s lots of casinos that are easy access. You’ve got to make it convenient if you want somebody to spend money."
In 2008, Waywayseecappo, Keeseekoowenin and Rolling River First Nations, were given the go-ahead from the province to build a medium-sized casino in the RM of Elton, near the northwest corner of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 10 junction. The project was abandoned after negotiations were derailed by a dispute over the original profit-sharing arrangement.
Clearsky, along with Rolling River Chief Wilfred McKay and Keeseekoowenin Chief Norman Bone, have revived the initiative and presented their case verbally Wednesday.
They will submit a formal presentation to the AMC today.
Clearsky said the topic will likely come up at the chief’s assembly in June, where he hopes a decision will be made.
The AMC wouldn’t reveal details of the casino issue, only that meetings and discussions are ongoing.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition April 13, 2012