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Work begun on Little Pine casino

Progress is being made on the Saskatchewan-side casino in the Border City.

On Wednesday afternoon, a luncheon was held at the Wildrose Pavilion to give an update to members of the public on the status of the project. A wide variety of groups were in attendance, with representatives of the municipal government, candidates vying for a city council seat, and numerous First Nations bands present to hear about the ongoing project.

According to the information put forward in the presentations made during the project, soil testing and other evaluations are currently being conducted by surveyors and geologists, to determine what kind of foundation the casino building will require.

Chief Wayne Semaganis of Little Pine First Nation, who had led the push for the project to gain approval, also said there was equipment on-site to get the groundwork ready. As for hard information on a construction timeline, Semaganis said it will depend on what the soil test results are.

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“All those tests have to be done, and we have to get the results back before we can determine what it is that we’re going to build and how long that is going to take,” said Semaganis.

Semaganis also discussed the Frog Lake entertainment complex project, which has plans for a casino and an arena included in the development plans. Semaganis indicated he is satisfied with the status of the Little Pine project, due to the multiple approvals the casino has gathered up to this point.

“From the agreement that I have with the city, on the zoning, when I read the wording of it, we have all those agreements in place,” said Semaganis.

“I don’t know what Frog Lake has, so I can’t even assume to address that issue. Whether it’s a race or not, I don’t know where they are in the picture.”

Zane Hansen, the President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, was also present during the luncheon, and spoke about the projects projected economic impact on the community.

During his presentation, Hansen said the facility is planned to be around 30,000 square feet in size, with 250 slot machines and eight gaming tables. Around 140 jobs, with a $6.5 million payroll, are expected to be filled at the casino, with a daily visitation of 1200 to 1500 people. He also said it compared to the Gold Eagle casino in North Battleford.

As for additional community consultation, Hansen said more public meetings about the project will be scheduled as the construction schedule moves forward.

“We’ll do things, information sessions on employment, other opportunities, that type of corporate partner will be in the community,” said Hansen.

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“We’ll put some together that way, and if there are other groups that want to meet with us, we’re glad to sit down.”

Hansen said he expects the pace of the construction to proceed quicker than other projects, but could not provide an exact date for the construction start.

“I think, in this fall window, we get our start going, and you look 12-14 months off of that, that would give us lots of time,” said Hansen.

Hansen also weighed in on the Alberta-side project, indicating that SIGA is focused on their own work.

“We don’t know much more about it than what we read in the papers,” said Hansen.

“We’ve done our homework, we’re here with 20 years of experience, as a regional market developer, so we’re very thorough in our business plans, and we’re going to be a good, solid, long term corporate partner here in the community. That’s our focus right now.”

The casino site is located in the east end of Lloydminster, adjacent to the now-closed ReStore.

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