si-roy-whitney

Roy Witney, the new chief, works for Wynterose Consulting. (Wynterose Consulting)

The Tsuu T’ina First Nation has elected a new chief.

Members of the first nation, southwest of Calgary, cast ballots Monday, electing Roy Whitney as chief. He defeated incumbent Sandford Big Plume.

More than 1,000 people were eligible to vote.

Whitney was chief for 16 years before he stepped down in 2001. He was known as an industrious businessman who brought prosperity to the reserve.

The First Nation is planning a casino expansion and hotel project, but one major question that remains is how it will affect ring road negotiations underway.

"Hard to say — could mean good things," said Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver. "I'm looking forward to getting together with the new chief when there's an opportunity and finding out what his priorities are."

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he doesn't know yet what Tsuu T'ina's new chief means for ring road negotiations, which are between the province and the band.

"I know Chief Whitney, I know a little bit about him," he said. "He certainly has had a distinguished career in public service, and I look forward to working with him.... I'm looking forward to meeting him soon." 

Nenshi says there are many issues Calgary will have to work on with the new chief.

"As long as we have reasonable people having reasonable conversations I think we should be able to move every file forward," he said.

"There are big files on utilities, on servicing, on things other than the ring road, and I hope we will be able to move forward on all of them."