SACKVILLE, N.B.– Sackville town council has been asked to provide input on a proposed new Indigenous reserve being planned for the site of the former Radio Canada International/CBC property on the Tantramar marsh near Aulac.
Council learned about the proposal recently after Jamie Burke, Sackville’s manager of corporate projects, outlined a letter staff had received from Indigenous Services Canada Atlantic about the reserve creation proposal from Fort Folly First Nation near Dorchester.
Burke said the letter calls for Sackville’s comments on the proposal by Feb. 1, which would be passed along with the request for federal government approval. It encourages the local government to take a “good neighbour approach” towards First Nations when contemplating these types of recommendations or proposals.
Council was told the large 308-acre property, which is comprised of seven different lots, would be used for commercial development – although there has yet to be any indication of what exactly that would be.
“Commercial development could be a number of things, from retail, power generation, etc.,” said Burke.
Mayor John Higham said there is no clear understanding of what they specifically plan to do with the land at this point.
“They just wish to get into a reserve status and then consider what those options might be,”
He said it will be up to the federal government of whether to grant the request to turn this land into a reserve for commercial development.
Higham, who operates a consulting business working with First Nations communities, said although Fort Folly will be the host and owner of that particular reserve if it is approved, the land was purchased in early 2017 by a non-profit corporation created by all the Mig’maq communities in New Brunswick.
He said if reserve status is granted, development of the land would not be subject to the provisions under New Brunswick’s planning acts.
“It has a different form of development opportunity and responsibility,” said Higham.
He said typically there would be a municipal services agreement that would be negotiated between the town and the First Nation that could include things such as emergency response or fire service or any needed sewer and water services.
Coun. Bill Evans said he is “interested and curious” to learn more about what is being proposed for the land and said he would not hesitate in welcoming the new neighbours to the community.
But Evans pointed out the town isn’t in a position at this point to say much more because it has no idea what the development will entail or what impacts it may have.
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