The chief of Lake St. Martin First Nation says he's happy dozens of temporary homes that were supposed to be used by his people will be going to another flooded-out First Nation.
About 40 modular homes will be heading to land owned by the Little Saskatchewan First Nation, as the community relocates following the 2011 spring flood, the Manitoba government announced over the weekend.
Approximately 200 people from Little Saskatchewan were also forced out of their homes by flooding last year. Some of them have been staying at Misty Lake Lodge near Gimli, Man.
A provincial government spokesman told CBC News that the houses are being moved to land well above the flood-stage elevation.
The federal government will conduct technical, engineering and environmental assessments, along with any drainage that's required, in the process of converting the area to reserve land, the spokesman said in an email.
The province will provide up to $4.3 million for the First Nation to move the houses, build a community road, and prepare the housing lots and foundations.
Only 13 of 65 homes occupied
Earlier this year, the province offered a total of 65 modular houses for Lake St. Martin flood evacuees at a temporary village on a decommissioned military radar base off Highway 6.
However, only 13 of those homes have been occupied to date.
Instead of letting the remaining homes sit empty, they will be moved to Little Saskatchewan to help the flood evacuees there, provincial officials said.
Lake St. Martin Chief Adrian Sinclair says he wishes those in Little Saskatchewan all the best in their new homes.
Sinclair said most of the homes that were provided to his community are empty because his First Nation is upset with what he described as a lack of consultation by the province on where those houses should be located or how they should be designed.
"It was designed by Manitoba Housing and they didn't ask the people for any input, and basically … they took the whole thing away from the First Nation people," he said Monday.
Many flood evacuees from the Lake St. Martin First Nation have been living temporarily in Winnipeg hotels since their reserve was rendered uninhabitable by extreme floods in the spring of 2011.
Sinclair said the First Nation hopes to submit a design for a new community to the government in the new year.
"It's the people that have the idea, the knowledge and the history into the communities," he said.
"So they should ask the community members or the leadership what they want, not take it away from them and design it."