Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/12/2009 (3728 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The city's first urban reserve is still a go, but it won't include a long-planned First Nations government and administration complex.
Long Plain First Nation, which owns the parcel of land near Polo Park that's likely to become the city's first aboriginal economic development zone, has told the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs that an Aboriginal legislature and administration building is a no-go.
"It offered very little benefit to our community," said Long Plain Chief David Meeches. "We didn't see the point of continuing to put our money into the project when it wasn't really serving our interests."
That leaves the AMC's $100-million project in limbo.
For four years, Governance House has been a joint project of the AMC and Long Plain. The band was to earn urban reserve status for a parcel of land on Madison Street as part of treaty land it is still owed. The AMC would then use most of the land to build a ten-storey building that was to become the symbol of aboriginal self-government. Long Plain had also planned to build a gas bar on the parcel.
But a change of leadership at Long Plain — Meeches defeated former chief Dennis Meeches in April — threw the idea into flux.
The band continued to work through the bureaucracy needed to earn reserve status for the land, and the final hurdle, a new service deal with the city, is almost done. But Meeches said Thursday that, contrary to a story in the Free Press earlier this week, his band will not be working with the AMC to build Governance House. At a national meeting of native leaders in Ottawa Wednesday, Meeches said he again made that clear to AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans. In an interview earlier this week, Evans suggested the Governance House project was proceeding apace at Polo Park and that Long Plain was still open to the proposal. Evans said there was no backup location contemplated. Evans couldn't be reached Thursday.
Meeches said his new council asked outside experts to review the project and just couldn't see how the band would benefit financially. Meanwhile, Long Plain had been paying about $50,000 a year in taxes on the land as the project stalled.
Instead, Long Plain has engaged architects and engineers to look at rehabilitating an old 30,000-square-foot office building at 480 Madison St. to turn it into offices and businesses for First Nations.
Meeches said he's hoping the building will be ready for tenants April 1.
Earlier this year, Meeches and Evans exchanged terse letters about the project. Meeches said he wanted more time to review the proposals put together by his predecessor, but Evans accused Meeches of stalling the project.
Asked if there was lingering ill-will between the band and the AMC, Meeches said no. "It's not bad blood," said Meeches. "I call it business."