The tribe’s economic development team is proposing this part of the Kainai Industrial Area be designated so that they can lease parcels to new businesses. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC) The Blood Tribe has plans to bring money and jobs back to their southern Alberta reserve.
The tribe’s council wants to lease out about 23 hectares of land for commercial and light industrial development, or other uses, through a land designation.
The land would be designated for lease by non-members. It has to be voted on by band members, and the federal minister of indigenous relations has to sign off.
Coun. Hank Shade says the ultimate goal is economic development.
"The existing land tenure system under the Indian Act on the Blood Indian Reserve does not facilitate or attract investment or business development," he said.
Shade says a study done a decade ago revealed nearly $240 million left the Blood Reserve annually. Councillor Hank Shade says the market will decide what kind of businesses they would lease the land to. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC) "So that’s why we want to develop our economy," he said. "To circulate some of that money within the reserve."
The tribe’s economic development director, Rob Crow, says the land designation would allow the reserve to diversify its economy.
"A lot of our revenues are from oil and gas, and we don’t have a lot of the basic services that other towns do," he said. "We don’t have car washes or other things people take for granted." Rob Crow is the Blood Tribe’s director of economic development. (Lucie Edwardson/CBC) Crow says the economic development team is confident the land designation would be a success for the reserve, because it’s worked on other reserves including the Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda and Siksika reserves, where developments like casinos and business parks were built.
Shade says the team isn’t targeting any specific industries at this time, and is keeping its options open.
"A band-owned corporation will hold a head lease, and then whatever is feasible — through feasibility studies, or offers from off-reserve companies to joint venture with us," he said. "So, really, the market will decide the types of business."
Crow says a land designation also allows the tribe to apply for provincial and federal funding.
Blood Tribe members will vote on the proposed land designation next month.
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