Lennox Island looks to expand reserve beyond original borders
'We're getting to a point where we really don't have a lot of choice'
The Lennox Island First Nation wants to build a 30-house subdivision on land it has acquired off the original reserve in Lennox Island, P.E.I.
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The 18.6-hectare, or 46-acre, parcel of land on East Bideford Road was purchased about 15 years ago, according to Chief Matilda Ramjattan.
Expanding off the 540-hectare island is needed, Ramjattan said, because while the band's population is growing rapidly, its territory is shrinking.
The band estimates the population on Lennox Island is growing at six times the rate of the rest of P.E.I., Ramjattan said. She expects the island will add 50 people over the next five years, growing from 420 to 470 residents.
Lennox Island is also facing serious climate change threats from erosion and sea level rise, of which the band is well aware. Two homes are in immediate need of help and the choices are to move them or reinforce the shoreline — either option will be expensive.
Still, Ramjattan expects resistance from some residents.
"Lennox Island is a close-knit community, people like to be here," she said. "And it will be a little getting used to, to be in the new subdivision."
"It would be an individual case-by-case choice, I guess, but you know we're getting to a point where we really don't have a lot of choice but to develop there and to make that happen."
Federal funding has to be secured for the project first, Ramjattan said. A request has been made to Ottawa but the chief is not sure when the band will get an answer.
The band also owns another 10-hectare parcel of land in nearby Fernwood, P.E.I., that it acquired in 2009.
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With files from Laura Chapin