By Rick Garrick
The Mississaugas of Scugog are planning an Aug. 13 grand opening for their new retail plaza featuring the Minisi Convenience/Arts and Crafts store, a Tim Hortons restaurant and Fill-Up fuels.
“We just wanted to share the good news and success of the First Nation and the Noozhoo Nokiiyan Limited Partnership (NNLP) that is struck with the First Nation and their business development,” says Mississaugas of Scugog Chief Kelly LaRocca. “It is located right across from the (Great Blue Heron) Casino on the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation territory.”
The retail plaza commercial complex is owned by the NNLP and the Minisi Convenience/Arts and Crafts store and Tim Hortons restaurant are owned by the band.
“The (Fill-Up fuels) gas station is owned by a member of our First Nation,” LaRocca says, “who has proven himself over a number of years in how he has run the other gas station location on reserve.”
LaRocca says the band initially started the preliminary negotiations and concept for the retail plaza commercial complex, but put it under the ownership of the NNLP, which was created about a year ago.
“We decided to put the commercial complex in the name of the NNLP,” LaRocca says. “The Board of Directors, which is made up of our membership, basically do a lot of the oversight and direction of the commercial complex.”
The band, in conjunction with the Port Perry Chamber of Commerce, is holding the grand opening from 1-4 p.m., with food and beverages, live entertainment and cake being provided by the NNLP Board of Directors.
“After years of planning, and many hard-working days we can now see signs of the beginning of a prosperous and vital contribution to the broader community,” says Lisa Edgar, interim board chair with the NNLP Board of Directors. “We are excited to share this news with our neighbours and supporters.”
LaRocca says the band has many community members with experience on the Board of Directors for the Baagwating Community Association, which has contributed more than $13.5 million in charitable donations from the Great Blue Heron Casino since it began operations in 1997. The band financed, built and developed the casino following a First Nation-Crown Agreement with Ontario, signed in 1993.
“So we felt comfortable in arranging for an economic development corporation concept because we felt that board could move at the speed of business and take away that function from the chief and council on the day-to-day level,” LaRocca says. “We felt it made sense for Scugog because of our experience with Baagwating Community Association.”
LaRocca adds that the community signed its own land code in accordance with the First Nations Land Management Act in 1997 in order to lease the casino building.
“So we look at the (retail plaza commercial complex) grand opening as a bit of a success story from a lands management perspective,” LaRocca says. “We’ve been able to move quickly when it came to securing the Tim Hortons deal and getting the construction up and running.”
The Great Blue Heron Casino contributes more than $236 million to the regional economy and employs about 1,000 employees, including 85 from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island.