The City of Brandon reached a historic agreement with the Gambler First Nation in western Manitoba for establishing an urban reserve within the city. Despite the tribal agreement, however, there are no plans for a future development of an Indian casino, representatives of the tribe said on Friday.
The partnership between the town and the tribe became official on Friday when Chief David LeDoux and Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest signed a municipal development and service agreement. It would allow the tribe, which is located 132 kilometres northwest of Brandon, to develop an urban reserve with the borders of the second largest city in the province of Manitoba. The planned parcel of land is located on the North Hill in Brandon, at 1725 18th Street North and 1655 Clare Avenue.
Although there are no specific plans to show what the urban reserve would include, the property, which is approximately 3,5 hectares in size will be home to various retail facilities. According to the tribe, there will be a car wash and a gas station, a restaurant and a hotel on the privately owned plot. In addition, there will be office space rentals, as well as a mini shopping mall. The parcel of land is now zoned as commercial-artificial which also allows the development of a shopping mall and other commercial facilities.
The discussions about this agreement started several years ago. The deal between the tribe and Brandon was necessary because it was a prerequisite for setting aside land as a reserve by the federal government. Chief LeDoux hopes that this project will be approved by the local community, especially with no casino in the plans. Many people oppose the opening of a gambling venue in Brandon.
No Casino Envisioned by the Gambler First Nation
According to the local law, Gambler First Nation does not have the right to build a casino on the plot in Brandon. In addition, citizens voted against the development of a gambling facility within the city in a 2008 ballot. Chief David LeDoux, however, admits that the tribe has never planned a casino for the future urban reserve in the City of Brandon.
He explains that such a project would be too large for the tribe which has a population of around 270 people, many of whom are scattered across the country. According to official data by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), however, the tribe is made up of more than 500 people. The truth is that the Gambler First Nation is shrinking in size and the urban reserve in Brandon would provide it with great opportunities.
The INAC also says that the Gambler First Nation is only one of 618 recognized First Nations. Also known as Indian bands or just bands, these are small groups of Indigenous people and in some cases, they do not exceed 100 individuals.