Manitoba lodge housing flood evacuees to shut down
A lodge that was home to dozens of aboriginal flood evacuees in Manitoba is closing down, and its owner blames unpaid MANFF bills.
Misty Lake Lodge in Gimli, Man., has been housing 65 evacuees from the Lake St. Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nations for the past two years, after the two reserves were severely damaged by flooding in the spring of 2011.
- MANFF surrenders flood evacuee services
- MANFF staff banned from hotels as tensions grow
- Province still paying MANFF despite questionable expenses
- Lodge, aboriginal group head to mediation for unpaid bills
- Hotel bills for Manitoba flood evacuees going unpaid
Lodge owner Mike Bruneau said the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF) owes $3 million for accommodation and food for the evacuees.
The last bill that MANFF paid was more than two months ago for a fraction of what was owed at the time, he said.
MANFF disputes many of Misty Lake's invoices, but the agency agreed to pay the undisputed portion at a meeting arranged by Aboriginal and Northern Development Affairs in early May.
But Bruneau said he still hasn't received any money and the bills are piling up, forcing him to close down the lodge.
"It's the worst thing. It's the last thing I wanted to do," he said Monday. "These people have been through enough."
Evacuees and staff found out this morning that the lodge will shut down Sept. 1.
An investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement at MANFF is ongoing.
Manitoba's minister of aboriginal and northern affairs, Eric Robinson, told CBC News the situation is ultimately the federal government's responsibility, but he promised to work with the department to make sure no one is out on the streets.
"We are on the side of the evacuees," Robinson said Monday afternoon.
"The whole issue is heartbreaking — the kids have been out of school, people have had their lives on hold way too long."
Calls to MANFF and Aboriginal and Northern Development Affairs have not been returned.