Sandy Bay multiplex preview

January 16, 2019

The Sandy Bay First Nation community in Manitoba is working to rebuild itself following a devastating flood in 2011. The community, which is about 170 km from Winnipeg, is now in the process of building a multiplex to house a number of businesses to serve the surrounding area.

We spoke with Jacques Marion, a BDO partner who works with Indigenous communities, about the multiplex project and what it represents to the people of Sandy Bay.

What is the multiplex project?

Currently, there are very few venues accessible to local members in the community. The multiplex project is going to be about 6,450 square feet and house services that matter for the membership, including a Robin's doughnut store and a fresh healthy food restaurant. Additionally, a Me-Dian Credit Union will be included to provide all aspects of financial services to the 7,000-person community and local businesses. It's also going to have The Grocery People (TGP) grocery store with various local seasonal choices, which will provide all the necessary fresh healthy food options for the members. And it will incorporate the distribution of seasonal wild meats processed through a federally inspected meat cutting plant, ensuring local options for the members of Sandy Bay First Nation.

Finally, we expect the multiplex to draw in many of the surrounding community residents that are looking for services in that area and have very few options (barring a two-hour drive to Winnipeg).

Why is the multiplex important for Sandy Bay?

The multiplex is very important to provide services to a membership and give individuals access to services in a way that's convenient and respectful for the local community.

The restaurant will create a focal point for meeting and discussions to take place for various groups that function within the community. It's also extremely important from a cultural standpoint for all of the individuals of Sandy Bay to get locally produced and packaged food sources.

And finally, the multiplex will act as an economic development revenue stream for the members of the community in providing value-added services that are going to allow the chief and council to provide other enhanced services to their members.

How many jobs will this create?

The Sandy Bay community is expecting to create 20 full- and part-time jobs. In a community where there are only a select few jobs available for the service delivery of government programs, it's an excellent undertaking to provide opportunities to some of the local members and residents, and to drive more economic development for supporting opportunities that complement the multiplex undertaking.

Is anyone in the community helping build the multiplex?

Absolutely. The construction component is wide open for local employment. In fact, it's preferential as an inclusion to the contractor as local community engagement. This was included in the design of the undertaking presented to the stakeholders by us, and negotiated by chief and council in selecting the contractor.

What is BDO's involvement in the project?

The community always wanted to have their own store, but the financial position of the nation was not able to support such a project until recently. After about three years of hard work by the administration, leadership of the community, and BDO, we were able to collectively produce business plans, obtain financing from financial institutions and private markets as well as provide project management and the operational oversight in accounting services and management of the facility.

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