Indian Brook poverty

The Shubenacadie band's operations manager Nathan Sack said revenue from the 45 VLTs will help alleviate poverty and a housing shortage in Indian Brook. (CBC)

As the Shubenacadie band readies to open a controversial gambling centre in Hammonds Plains, they can look to another Nova Scotia First Nation for a road map to turn VLTs into a revenue boon.

Shubenacadie has received push back from the Hammonds Plains community on its plans to house video lottery terminals. The band argues the gambling centre will bring in much needed revenue for the desperately poor Indian Brook First Nation.

Down the road is some inspiration. Millbrook First Nation Chief Bob Gloade said since 1995 VLTs have changed his reserve from a have not into a have community. 

He said they too had push back when they first introduced their VLT plans, but since then the funds have enriched the reserve. The 125 VLTs brings in $10 million annually, with each person receiving $2,000 twice a year.

That's paid for new buildings and health programs. The Millbrook First Nation gave $250,000 to a new school, and money to the hospital and civic centre.

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The Shubenacadie band owns approximately 55 hectares of land in the area. Right now, it wants to house 45 video lottery terminals in one building.

“You have to look at the bigger picture and look at what’s going to really impact the community members and also the local area,” Gloade said. “Any economic development in an area is beneficial to both communities.

Shubenacadie hopes it can do the same. It is bringing 45 VLTs to a building in Hammonds Plains, and have provincial permission for another 100 on close to 55 hectares of land they own.

“We have very high poverty levels, we have housing shortages," said Nathan Sack, with the Shubenacadie band. “I’m talking within a two bedroom house we have families of 10 or 12 people living in some of these houses."

But the VLTs still worry locals, who aren’t giving up their opposition to the gambling centre.

About 65 people attended a tense meeting last night in Hammonds Plains to voice their concerns.