Salt River First Nation Announces Major Infrastructure Funding for Development of its Fort Smith Reserve
[Fort Smith, Northwest Territories – August 24, 2020] Chief David Poitras is extremely pleased to announce that the Federal Government, through Minister Marc Miller of Indigenous Services Canada, has committed the funds required to begin construction of Salt River First Nation’s Community Infrastructure Project. The Project will install the basic water and sewer, streets and electrification systems required for a 39-lot residential subdivision within its Fort Smith Reserve and extend water and sewer services to its Petro-Can/Tim Hortons/Convenience Store business. The Project is fully engineered and tender ready.
In addition to fulfilling the First Nation’s current public services infrastructure needs, the Project is expected to be a major Covid-19 economic stimulus and recovery benefit for the First Nation and the Town of Fort Smith. The $16.8 million dollar Project will take two years to complete and is expected to create $22.9 million in output, including close to $6 million in wages and salaries and support 77 jobs in the Northwest Territories alone. The purchasing of goods and services will contribute fiscal revenues to the federal government, territorial and provincial coffers. When the basic subdivision infrastructure is established it will enable residential construction over a number of years with an estimated investment of $20 million, generating $23.6 million in output, including $2.6 million in wages and salaries while supporting 42 jobs during the construction period.
In acknowledging this infrastructure funding milestone, Chief Poitras noted, “I wish to not only thank Minister Miller for the Federal Government’s funding commitment, but also MP Michael McLeod, Premier Caroline Cochrane, Fort Smith Mayor Lynn Napier and Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya who, among many others, expressed their full support for the Project. It takes a lot of work and a collaborative effort to develop a project like this and secure the funding for it. Salt River First Nation has had a great team working towards this day for many years. I thank them all.”
Based upon its 1899 Treaty, Salt River First Nation and the Government of Canada signed a Treaty Settlement Agreement (TSA) in 2002, part of which provided for Reserve creation on 166 square miles of primarily undeveloped lands at sixteen sites in, and around the Town of Fort Smith. The TSA anticipated that once the SRFN Reserves were established and proclaimed, financial resources would be forthcoming from Government to enable the development of the Fort Smith Reserve for habitation and economic opportunities to standards at least commensurable with that of the encompassing Fort Smith community. As stated by SRFN’s Chief Negotiator Ken Laviolette, “Eighteen years later, we are all grateful that our First Nation is now able to move forward with this Project that will benefit our Members and the larger community.”