The Manitoba government has spent $10 million building an interim village for flooded-out residents of the Lake St. Martin First Nation, but most homes remain empty.


Homes in the Lake St. Martin First Nation's interim village under construction in March. (CBC)

Of the 63 housing units in total, CBC News has learned just 13 are being lived in.

Norma and Harry Beardy would like to be in one of those homes. They are one of few families who refuse to live in Winnipeg hotels and are still in their home at the Lake St. Martin First Nation.

More than a year after the flood, though, water is still seeping into their basement. Harry Beardy keeps a sump pump going and Norma scrubs mould off the walls.

Norma Beardy says they'd rather be in the interim village nearby.

"I have told them that I would like to move in there. But no one has called us yet, and yet I can see there's a lot of places vacant there," she told CBC News.

In March the province said the homes would fill up after school was out for the summer.

Some band members who helped build the village say there are reasons people might not be settling in. Robert Ross said he's seen a dozen families move in but then leave again.

"There's really no jobs here, so there's no future here for people," he said.

'There's a lot of places vacant there.' —Norma Beardy

Ross added that residents are only offered $4 a day from the province to live in the village, compared to flooded-out residents in the city who get $24 per day from the federal government.

Many First Nation members tell CBC News they are primarily worried that if they move into the interim village, they may be stuck there and never get a permanent community with proper infrastructure or amenities.

Neither of the two provincial ministers assigned to the Lake St. Martin file, Housing Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, was available for comment.