St Mary’s First Nation
150 Cliffe Street, Fredericton, NB E3A 0A1
- (506) 458-9511 T.F. (888) 445-6644
July 19, 2021
Summary of July 15-16 Economic Development and Chief and Council Meeting
Chief and Council held a meeting on July 15-16 with representatives from ongoing St. Mary’s First Nation Economic Development entities including Retail Sales, St. Mary’s Entertainment Centre, and band administration.
The priority for these meetings was discussing the future of Economic Development, it was a non-voting session intended to serve as a brainstorming session and general assembly of the current Economic Development team.
Sakom Polchies welcomed all in attendance to the meeting, noting this was one of the first in-person meetings able to take place outside of private council meetings in recent months.
The band communications strategy was updated, with emphasis on more timely release of information to community members and expanded communications channels.
Congratulatory notice was given about new Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon, as first indigenous person to hold the office. Calls for support of Simon in her new role.
Discussion held around drug activity within the community in recent weeks, broad support issued for stronger executive decision making around the topic. Scheduled discussions around new policing agreement ongoing with Fredericton City Police, chief noted no need for new policing agreement to be fully developed before action plan developed. Chief and Council obviously cannot handle direct law enforcement tasks, but other efforts are being made.
Report issued by Retail Sales on situation, heavily impacted by the province’s attempt to withdraw from the Tax-Revenue Sharing Agreement (TRSA) along with reduced sales due to COVID-19. All businesses remain fully solvent, however loss of the TRSA would likely require some changes to current business strategies to remain profitable long-term.
A list of five action items was also made by council; list as follows:
- Investigate feasibility of using ground-penetrating radar at Old Reserve to identify any cultural or burial sites under the lot.
- Creation of a standalone economic development committee which reports to Chief and Council but acts more independently than current structure allows.
- Evaluate whether it is viable to demolish the old red building on band property off Union Street, start evaluating what is best to replace it given the prime retail space it occupies.
- Drafting and taking suggestions on what businesses could fill in the two empty retail spaces (One at Cliffe Street and one at Two Nations Crossing). Suggestion was made for Subways, being evaluated.
- Designate and appoint a lead for the band’s cannabis enterprise to promote future development of the area.
Other areas of note were the St. Mary’s Entertainment Centre and Retail Sales, which both had their own updates.
- An additional $500k funding id being secured for more renovations to the dining area and restaurant.
- Intent from management is to increase frequency of bingo from current 5-day schedule to 7-day schedule by mid-August. With COVID restrictions being lifted in the coming days, bingo hall capacity can be expanded to around 600.
- Smoking v. Non-Smoking debate continues, however current policy against smoking inside will remain in place for the time being.
- Natural Gas Installation was successful, with an operating credit being offered for the switchover.
- First wave of renovations was completed, all VLTs located in Hall B.
- Evaluating business options to fill the empty retail space at Two Nations and Cliffe locations. Current propositions include researching the feasibility of placing a Subway at one of the locations.
- Starbucks location still being investigated, but Starbucks corporate office was not keen on the proposed Two Nations Crossing location due to traffic in the area being below the threshold they use to approve new franchises. Choice locations are likely the properties held by the band along Union Street, but this would either require the closure of the Wolastoq Wharf or the demolition and replacement of the old Loyal Taxi building or relocation of Fisheries.
- Cannabis file needs additional support an investigation into viability for expansion. Call made for newly forged Economic Development Committee to identify leads for this.
- Discussion around the addition of Beer or Wine to the supermarket. May help offset some of the losses at the supermarket, no application submitted to ANBL yet, only foreseeable issue is criticism over the proximity to an existing location. (However, this should not be an issue given the proximity of Sobeys Brookside and Sobeys Regent Street to existing ANBL locations.)
- Earth Medicine has been a successful enterprise for the band, bringing in profits which are being considered for the construction of an Elders’ home.
- Ongoing discussion with consulting firm evaluating most profitable business ventures for the band. Report is due by March 2022.
- Wolastoq Wharf discussed as a venture which may need a revamp or relocation, as it occupies prime retail space but cannot sustain profitability. No issues with quality or service.
The next Chief and Council meeting will be held on July 26, 2021. If community members have any input on the above issues or any other concerns, feel free to reach out to your Chief and Council at the Band Office.