PAQ’TNKEK: A local First Nations community is in favour of a land exchange.

Of the 411 eligible voters in the Paq’tnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, 277 took part in a vote on whether or not to surrender 32 acres of land and transfer another 34 acres of band owned land for the purposes of a proposed $15.3 million highway interchange development project. Of the 277 people who took part, 265 voted in favour, 11 against and there was one spoiled ballot.

“That was certainly more than enough to reach the double majority threshold,” said Paq’tnkek Chief Paul Prosper.

“What happens now is the community approved the agreement with the federal and provincial agreements so it will go through the process on the federal and provincial sides signing off on it, and I believe construction will begin as early as September.”

As part of the agreement, the band will receive $2.3 million in compensation. Prosper said he feels the agreement is good news for the community.

“This will present quite a bit of opportunity for not only our community but the surrounding communities as well,” he said.

“So, there is overwhelming support and anticipation of the opportunities it will provide.”

Prior to the vote, Prosper said an agreement exists between Paq’tnkek, and the federal and provincial governments on the terms and conditions related to the highway project, the lands provided, the compensation for the lands, and other items such as the removal of houses and certain losses to other lands.

Paq’tnkek is located on two parcels of land with around 200 hectares of land on the south of the community expropriated by the government in the 1960s for the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway. Prosper also previously said the proposed interchange and access ramps would “access the south side of that 200 hectare parcel.”