A clearer picture of the complex proposed by Frog Lake First Nation has begun to emerge.
The proposal for the facility was first announced on July 11, when a press release issued by the band was made available to the general public.
The project, titled the Lloydminster Regional Entertainment Complex, is set to include a hockey arena with a Western Hockey League franchise, along with a hotel, convention centre, and casino. It is planned to be built on land right next to the commercial complexes in the west end of Lloydminster, south of Highway 16.
On Friday morning, the developers of the project held a public information session with the council of Vermilion River County, presenting detailed plans of the complex and the steps being undertaken to see it become a reality. A focus of the discussion between the council and the developers was the obstacle of the current moratorium on casino development in the province of Alberta.
According to previous public statements made by those involved in the project, and the materials presented to the council, the casino is the central component of the complex, which will give financial support to the other facilities, as part of one build.
According to project manager Bruce Simms, Alberta Gaming and Liqour (AGLC) has told Frog Lake there will be no changes to the current moratorium.
“Over time, we believe there are ways to work through the moratorium, and over time there will be changes at Alberta Gaming and Liquor (AGLC), but at this point in time, when we met with their senior executive, they said the moratorium stands,” said Simms.
However, Simms discussed the possibility of purchasing a license from another casino in Alberta as a possible workaround, among other strategies. Further details on those strategies are currently unavailable.
Councillor William Quinney of Frog Lake was also present at the meeting. According to Quinney, the issuing of the press release on July 11 was a way to let the public know about the project.
“The rumours were flying, public interest was everywhere, so we just wanted to do our part to quell the rumours and draw interest to our development,” said Quinney.
He also said the casino development on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster was an added pressure.
“In economic development, competition is always a good thing, and that’s all we’re doing,” said Quinney.
“We’re getting into the game.”
Quinney also spoke to the role the casino plays in the overall development of the project.
“The casino is the integral part, it sustains the whole project, and it gives us the ability to grow the project, to grow our ability to invest more into Lloyd,” said Quinney.
“For us, an airport expansion is only logical when it comes to the growth of Lloydminster, and if there is an ability to assist the City in other ways, and the County in other ways, we’ll do that.”
The footprint of the complex is aimed to become reserve land via application to the federal government, and Quinney said the step is “doable.”
“INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) is aware of the idea,” said Quinney.
“It’s something that has never been done before, but from the information we got, it’s doable, so now we’re here.”
The next step for the project will see a formal development application made to the County of Vermilion River, which will eventually end up on the table of the Intermunicipal Liaison Committee (ILC), for review and comment. The ILC is the authority on development between the Border City and the county.
Simms mentioned that the same information presented to the county was also presented to Lloydminster City Council on July 27.
Councillor Jason Whiting said the presentation had been a good chance to meet the people involved with the project in person, and that the plan they presented looked good.
“The plan is big, and it sure would be nice to see that sort of investment from anybody, from other businesses, from anybody in our city,” said Whiting.
“Hopefully they can continue down the path that their vision is on.”
Whiting also said the meeting had been information-only, with similar meetings happening on a monthly basis between council and different organizations and individuals.
As for the County of Vermilion River, Reeve Darryl Watt said he had found the presentation very informative. He also said he found it easier to deal with the proposal when presented with concrete information, as opposed to a press release.
“It is better to be dealing with facts, figures, actual lines on a piece of paper, than a media release from one person’s perspective.” said Watt.
“It gives a greater comfort level, hearing the words from the people that are actually doing this.”
The rough timeline on the project indicates ground could be broken in 2018.
Detailed information and maps of the development can be found by following the links below.