New grocery store for Snare Lake

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 03/97) - People living in Snare Lake may not have to pay $6.25 for two litres of milk much longer.

A new grocery store is being proposed for the community of 130.

"I expect radical, radical price drops, says Glynn Gates, general manager of Wekweti Development Corporation.

The development corporation, which is owned by the community, is taking on the project. The new store could be built and operated by local people.

It will cost nearly half a million dollars to build and equip a new food store, says Gates.

Four MBA students from York University are currently putting together a feasibility study and funding package.

They are being helped by Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO) volunteer consultant Lou Lemoine.

CESO volunteers are retired professionals who help set up businesses or solve business problems.

Many preparation plans are under way.

The plan is for the current unheated warehouse to be demolished. "The old one (warehouse) is just next to useless," he added.

Gates plans to scout out a used freight truck so the community can take advantage of the winter road. It would help bring down food prices if Wekweti is hauling its own freight.

The price of butter currently sits at five dollars a pound, Gates said. "On certain items, freight is more than 50 per cent of the price," he explained.

Gates hopes as much construction as possible will be done locally on the project.

"I've been here two years and I keep hearing: "We want a new store," he said.

The old grocery store is called Hozilla Naedik'e (Treeline Store). Gates believes the name will stay the same for the new one.

"Right now we're in a holding pattern. We're waiting for the feasibility study back from the MBA students."

Gates says he would like the funding to be arranged by late summer and procurement of materials to start this fall.

"If the funding comes through, we should be running by late summer of 1998," Gates expects. Wekweti, he adds, "would have to come up with a fair chunk."

Wekweti is the business arm of the band of Snare Lake.