New entertainment centre planned for Edmundston

The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is getting prepared to open a new entertainment centre in Edmundston.

Madawaska Maliseet First Nation will operate the new Grey Rock Entertainment Centre

An artist's rendition of the proposed Grey Rock Entertainment Centre that is being built in Edmundston. (Madawaska Maliseet First Nation/Facebook)

The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation is getting prepared to open a new entertainment centre in Edmundston.

The Grey Rock Entertainment Centre, part of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation’s $13-million Grey Rock Power Centre, was scheduled to open this month but construction delayed the grand opening until December.

Madawaska Maliseet First Nations Chief Patricia Bernard said the new centre will feature nightly bingo, video lottery terminals and a restaurant.

She said she hopes the prime location, just off the Trans-Canada Highway in the northwestern city, and elaborate front entrance will attract travelling tourists entering the Maritimes. The entrance will feature a 12-metre totem pole made of 800-year-old cedar surrounded by a ring of fire.

"It will be a very magnificent structure that can be seen from the highway. Just seeing that is going to pique people’s interest to [visit] the power centre," Bernard said.

"The building itself will be totally modern. There will be waterfalls and huge, gigantic chandeliers. It’s going to be very beautiful inside, that’s going to be very pleasing to the eye."

Bernard said the Grey Rock Entertainment Centre will resemble the St. Mary’s Entertainment Centre near Fredericton, but will be larger and have two bingo halls, plus the restaurant and a café.

It will also create 200 new jobs with 15 hired from students at the community college in Edmundston, which established a hospitality training course in partnership with the Madawaska Maliseet Economic Development Corp.

"It will be quite a huge boost to the local economy, so we’re quite happy about that," Bernard said.

"The goal here for us is to build the economy. We’ve been missing something here in the northwestern region New Brunswick, and [the Grey Rock Power Centre] is something we feel is going to benefit this region greatly."

Negotiations are still ongoing with the province for the licences of the video lottery terminals.

The New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corp. has a 2,000 cap on the number of VLTs in the province as well as a 300 maximum of the number of VLT sites.

The Department of Finance, which oversees the New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corp., did not respond to CBC News to confirm how many VLTs and VLT sites are in the province.

The entertainment centre itself will be privately owned with a percentage of profits going back to the Madawaska Maliseet band since it is on the reserve.

Bernard said the percentage is also still being negotiated.