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Lake St. Martin reserve close to getting new home

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A home in Lake St. Martin surrounded by flood waters.

MIKE DEAL / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

A home in Lake St. Martin surrounded by flood waters.

OTTAWA - More than 1,000 former residents of the Lake St. Martin reserve could soon be getting a new home.

Two years after the residents were forced from their homes by flooding in the spring of 2011, the federal and provincial governments and the First Nation have an agreement on a new site to rebuild the community.

The site is next to the existing community but is on higher land.

More than 80 per cent of the homes on the reserve were deemed unsalvageable after repeated flooding over several years.

As of May 10, there were 1,064 Lake St. Martin residents still on federal evacuee lists and have been living in rentals or hotels as they await a resolution to the problem.

There will be an information meeting with evacuees before the band council gives its final approval.

Then the federal government has to go through the bureaucratic process of giving the land reserve status.

The land is a combination of provincial crown land and land the province bought from private owners.

Building new homes will come later.

Choosing a new site for the reserve has been a major sticking point in getting the evacuees back into their own homes as the band and the governments could not agree on the best spot.

The province purchased several modular homes and erected them on an old radar base near Gypsumville for Lake St. Martin evacuees but very few took the offer fearing the site would become a permanent home. Many of the homes have now been sold to another reserve.

The federal government also audited the evacuee list in the winter of 2012 after the number of evacuees on the list continued to grow months after the community was evacuated.

More than 100 people were deemed to be ineligible for evacuation assistance.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM CDT: Rejigs sentence regarding number of residents.

12:06 PM: One more rejig of same sentence.

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