The Gambler First Nation urban reserve in Brandon received official reserve status in late June, meaning construction can start on the North Hill development.
City of Brandon director of economic development Sandy Trudel said construction can now start on the property, but the First Nation has agreed to abide by the same regulatory framework any other developer in Brandon does.
"Gambler First Nation agreed to abide by the City of Brandon zoning bylaws and other bylaws and a normal what you would call ‘Regulatory process.’ From that sense of it, there’s really nothing different from a development perspective."
A June 22 letter from the Privy Council formally designates the property as reserve status, meaning the First Nation now has care and control over it.
Trudel said any new building on the land has to move forward in the same way as development on any other piece of land and will require the same permits. The land getting reserve status from the federal government incorporates it into the First Nation’s other reserve land near Binscarth.
The Municipal Development Services Agreement negotiated last year sets out that the First Nation will follow the same development process as any other builder in the city.
"They would have to follow the exact same rules and processes that any other non-reserve status land would have to."
A billboard has gone up along the road at 1725 18th St., the piece of land where the urban reserve is located, but no construction has officially started. One side displays the official rendering of the development, including a gas bar, retail space, a hotel and restaurants. The other side advertises leasing opportunities at the urban reserve, including "build-to-suit construction" and up to 99-year prepaid capital lease.
"It’s all been part of a process and work to get us where we are," Trudel said. "This designation is a huge milestone for Gambler First Nation, and for the City of Brandon lands as well it’s a great development opportunity. We look forward to seeing the project constructed as quickly as possible."
The First Nation is also in the middle of a court case to determine who the chief is.
David LeDoux, who represented the First Nation during the urban reserve’s ceremonial groundbreaking in late May, was elected chief on May 31, 2018.
Gordon Ledoux, David LeDoux’s brother, appealed this outcome, citing unspecified "cheating" in conversation with The Sun, which resulted in the First Nation’s election committee ordering a second election. Gordon Ledoux won this second election, which was held on Aug. 31, 2018
Before this second election though, on Aug. 13, 2018, David LeDoux and the other councillors elected in the first election filed an application for judicial review to decide who the chief is.
The case is still before the courts.
When reached on Thursday, Gordon Ledoux said there is an upcoming deadline to submit documents for the judicial review. After that, a date for a decision will be set.
He said he is also hoping the hearings get moved to Winnipeg from Saskatoon, where the case has played out up until now.
Adam Touet, who represents David LeDoux and the other councillors elected with him, said a date for the case should be set by July 25 and it could move be heard by a judge in August. In previous correspondences, he said he maintains the legitimacy of David LeDoux’s position as chief.
"At this point in time, it’s simply waiting to have to the whole thing heard."
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