RM rejects Lodge location

by Phil Ambroziak

The RM of Meadow Lake recently decided it could not approve a subdivision application for a 10-acre piece of property many believed would house the new Northland Pioneer Lodge.

In spite of this, however, Prairie North Reginal Health Authority (PNRHA) officials remain optimistic the long-term care facility will still be built along Highway 4 north of the city.

According to a July 15 letter issued by the RM to Jake and Eve Danilkewich, the local couple who donated the land to PNRHA, the municipality would not approve the application because of seven specific reasons. Firstly, the RM noted the application did not meet district official community plan and zoning bylaws. Other reasons include PNRHA’s failure to provide the RM with results of soil tests conducted at the site, questionable water and sewer in that area, concerns about the elevation of both the property and the building, the possible disturbance of future industrial and commercial expansion, noise and activity being present at that location, as well as the property’s proximity to Highway 4.

“The main reason why we rejected it at the time is because we want to see some results with regard to the soil testing and water levels,” explained RM of Meadow Lake reeve Rodger Zuchotzki. “Prairie North has yet to give the RM that information, so we figured if they want to play ball, we’ll play and not approve their application.”

Zuchotzki went on to say, if the RM is required to provide funding toward the development of a new long-term care facility, it has a right to know everything that’s going on. He also described the process as having poor direction in terms of bringing all local parties together.

“It needs a little more focus and all parties need to have current and correct information, and I believe we’re getting that message across,” he said.

According to PNRHA officials, the RM’s decision not to approve the subdivision application won’t deter plans to eventually develop a new Northland Pioneer Lodge on the land provided by the Danilkewiches.

“We are aware of the RM’s letter to the people who donated the land, and we’re aware of the municipality’s concerns,” stated PNRHA communications officer Linda Lewis. “We plan to work with the RM on this and this property is still our intended site for the project.”

Lewis also expressed how grateful PNRHA is to the Danilkewiches for providing the land, reiterating the health authority’s plan to work with the RM to address any outstanding issues and concerns.

Meanwhile, Eve Danilkewich said she understands the RM’s point of view on the matter.

“I know neither municipality has the money yet – I’m certain of that – so they’re in no hurry and probably just want to make sure they have all of their concerns covered,” she said. “Hopefully it works out.”

With an estimated price tag of anywhere between $25 million to $30 million, the RM and the City of Meadow Lake would be responsible for 20 per cent of overall capital costs. While the province will fund the remaining 80 per cent, the municipalities are also responsible for another $1 million to $1.5 million for furnishings and equipment. While the city recently introduced a levy of $75 per each residential and multi-residential property as a means of collecting some money to put toward the project, neither municipality will be able to completely fund their share in the immediate future, as other projects have taken priority in the interim. Zuchotzki believes, when the time comes, it will be possible for the RM to contribute its share.

“But, there can’t be any glitches,” he noted. “We don’t want to suddenly find out we have to cough up an extra $1 million. That’s why there needs to be a lot of focus and direction in terms of everyone involved.”

Prior to receiving the land donation from the Danilkewiches, PNRHA was in negotiations with Flying Dust First Nation to develop the new facility on reserve land.

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