Indigenous business venture rebrands hotel to serve the community

·3 min read

A new Indigenous owned and operated hotel officially opened its doors on Monday with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony and a focus on serving community needs.

The Cumberland Crossing Inn will help meet growing demands for affordable student housing and medical accommodations, and grow the economy, leaders say.

Cumberland Crossing is the result of a partnership between the Saskatchewan River Business Corporation (SRBC) and Timanaska Development Corporation to buy the old Quality Inn Hotel and reopen under Indigenopus ownership.

The City of Prince Albert took possession of the former Quality Inn in July of last year, which Cumberland Crossing proposed to buy for $900,000 and convert into affordable student housing and medical accommodations.

Cumberland House Cree Nation Chief Rene Chaboyer said even though the economy has been slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the vacant hotel was a chance to invest in something truly worthwhile.

“We kind of saw a diamond in the rough here with the opportunities,” Chaboyer said.

“Not only just the hotel at the time but our original plan was to turn this hotel into student housing and some easy living for some elders.”

In September Mayor Greg Dionne called the project “a big plus” and said the city would continue to monitor the program “to make sure that they build what they have committed to.”

The building stands at 67 13th Street East in Prince Albert, near the new University of Saskatchewan campus. Terra Lennox-Zepp, who represents Ward 2. Coun. said it’s a welcome development her constituents are glad to see.

“I’ve been hearing lots of positive feedback from members of our community with the plan in place,” she said. “(There’s) some positivity for this building.”

Chaboyer said the new business venture is part of a long-term vision for the economic development of his community.

“Cumberland House Cree Nation is excited to be a part of this joint venture with Timanaska Development Corp.,” Chaboyer said.

“Purchasing the former Quality Inn Hotel will contribute greatly to the economic development of our nation, encouraging growth and prosperity for the future of our community.”

Timanaska Development Corp. President and CEO. Orrin Greyeyes said there’s a real need for the Cumberland Crossing Inn in Prince Albert.

“There is a large demand for student housing and medical accommodations in this city. We are thrilled to be working with the Saskatchewan River Business Corporation to bring this vision to fruition and to also bring this building back to life,” Greyeyes said.

“Our team has been working tirelessly to prepare for Cumberland Crossing Inn’s doors to open and we will continue working to ensure this building is used to its full potential.”

Cumberland Crossing will benefit students attending Prince Albert’s downtown post-secondary institutions, like the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the First Nations University of Canada campus, and the incoming University of Saskatchewan campus.

Roughly 40 per cent of the building’s 93 rooms were converted into affordable housing.

Space is allocated for a subsidized daycare service, a community kitchen, and a medical taxi to transport guests to and from medical facilities.

Some of those facilities won’t open until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Cumberland Crossing also plans to ban alcohol from the facility, and install 24-hour security.

With Prince Albert Daily Herald files from Jason Kerr

Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate