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Skownan First Nation closes road used by farmers, hunters and anglers

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A road used by farmers, hunters and anglers has been closed by Skownan First Nation in attempt to get the attention of the Selinger government on decade-old flooding problems.

Salt Point Road has been blockaded for several weeks but only now has the community, at the south end of Waterhen Lake between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Winnipegosis, started turning away all traffic.

Councillor Joseph Maud said the dispute centres on the province’s apparent refusal to deal with flooding caused by the reconstruction of a bridge over the West Waterhen River in 1999.

"Our issues have been moving at a snail’s pace," he said, adding Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson and Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn, MLA for the area, met with band officials during the summer.

"It sounded like things were progressing, but this is now October," Maud said.

Maud said the road starts on the reserve before continuing to Crown land and a provincially-owned boat ramp, frequently used by anglers and hunters.

Paul Turenne, executive director of the Manitoba Lodges & Outfitters Association, said the both the band and the province have to start talking.

"I think it’s clear to everyone that this is not the diplomatic way to go about negotiations," he said.

RCMP say they have got a few complaints about traffic disruptions and are monitoring the matter.

A provincial spokesman said the province and band have established a working group to help expedite a resolution.

"Meetings are ongoing and the province remains committed to resolving all outstanding issues," Matt Williamson said. "We’ve asked them to remove the blockade as discussions continue."

 

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