Agreement reached for First Nations casino in southwestern Manitoba

CBC News reports that the Manitoba province of Canada could soon see the construction of a new First Nations-run land casino near Spruce Woods Provincial Park following an agreement between the provincial government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Swan Lake First Nation.

The tribal authority announced Friday it has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the gaming facility on reserve land, near the park and Carberry Desert.

Dave Chomiak, Manitoba attorney general commented: "As with any business development, there are many steps to be taken to translate this [agreement] into a viable casino operation with equal benefit to all First Nations. We will continue in partnership with the [Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs] to see this aspiration lead to capital development, job creation and spinoff industries."

CBC reports that the assembly of chiefs and the provincial government have been working together since 2005 to develop a casino that will benefit all first nations communities in Manitoba equally. Southwestern Manitoba was identified as a good market for a small casino in 2007, but Brandon residents voted against it in two separate plebiscites — one in October 2002 and the other in March 2008.

In response, in June 2008, the assembly of chiefs and the provincial government put out a request for expressions of interest from First Nations wanting to supply a parcel of land for the development of a new casino.

The committee received four proposals in September and chose a site in the Rural Municipality of Elton, just north of Brandon. But after several discussions, the landowner and the assembly could not come to an agreement and the deal was scrapped in April.

The lease agreement is for reserve land next to Highway 5, about 16 kilometres south of the Trans-Canada Highway.

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