Alexander Prepares Strong Economic Future with $ 500,000 from the Province

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The First Nation will use funds to expand and revitalize the Sandy Lake campground.

A decaying stadium surrounded by a proliferation of trees is fanned by the cool breezes blowing from Sandy Lake. At the other end of the Alexander Sandy Lake First Nation campground, two shiny new regulation baseball fields patiently await enthusiastic players and cheering crowds.

These two structures somewhat symbolize the past and future of the Alexander First Nation, recipient of a $ 500,000 Aboriginal Business Investment Fund. The Tribal Band is one of eight Indigenous First Nations to receive funding sponsored by the Government of Alberta to support community-owned economic development projects.

The Alexander Business Center said the funding will help revitalize and expand the Alexander RV Park and Campground, located on the east shore of Sandy Lake. The now closed campsite is located 17 kilometers west of Morinville.

The goal is to expand 30 old campsites to 75 modern and fully equipped camper / tent sites. The proposed plans also include the construction of two more baseball fields. The main feature will be a multi-purpose recreation facility that can accommodate a banquet hall, full-size commercial kitchen, concession area, registration desk, and parking.

Once the main features of the campground are in place, feasibility studies suggest making it a summer tourist destination with a swimming pool, artificial river, climbing wall, hiking trails and mountain biking area.

“It’s exciting. It’s going to employ a lot of people. It will boost our economy and put us on the map. Especially after COVID, it will be good for our community to come together, celebrate and have a good time,” said RJ Arcand, Business Development and Business Center Marketing Specialist.

The total estimated cost is $ 2.7 million, including $ 2.2 million from several levels of government and provincial funds. The remaining $ 500,000 is provided through in-kind funding.

Joseph Jobin, Director of First Nations Relations for the Provincial Fund and a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation, has worked for the Government of Alberta in several positions balancing environmental stewardship and economic development.

He emailed a statement to The Gazette who said, “This support will help the Alexander First Nation develop a full-service recreational campground at Sandy Lake. The community owns 100 percent of the campground, and this will provide a way to improve the economy and employment for community members, ”Jobin said.

As an offshoot of the campground, band members who own businesses or manufacture crafts may be offered employment opportunities to sell their products or services on site.

” The circle is complete. We started very small with the gas station in December 2019. But we are branching out very quickly and trying to get into the heart of the country to provide our services. We are very focused on economic diversification. We want to be the first point of contact for the whole industry, ”Arcand said.

Since 2019, the business center has expanded to provide services in the areas of construction, business development, pipelines and construction safety, as well as safety, horizontal directional drilling, forestry, agriculture and utilities.

“It’s busy. Now that the economy is picking up, we are looking to cash in on projects. We want to build our community. We want to give our members long term jobs,” Arcand said. As we grow, we will be able to do more in terms of the services and programs offered to our members. ”

Provincial funding will allow project workers to begin site preparation, slicing lots, installing services and hauling gravel for roads.

“We are waiting for funding from the province and the federal government next year to begin construction. Everything (next round of nominations) is pretty much in place except for a few minor details, ”Arcand said.

Although this is an initiative of the Alexander Business Center, Arcand pointed out that many tribal departments are involved in the realization of this project.

“We have received advice from the capital projects team, our public works team and our board management. About 15 people have been involved so far, including indigenous entrepreneurs. It has been a real team effort to capitalize on this initiative.

The new campground is slated to open in the spring or summer of 2022.


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