Work Starts on Winter Road Network in Ontario

Modular Home headed to Attawapiskat photo by Emma A. Williams
Northern Ice Roads allow large items to be transported to Northern Communities - Photo by Emma Williams

De Beers trucks on the ice road headed into Victor Mine - Image courtesy De Beers
De Beers trucks on the ice road headed into Victor Mine – Image courtesy De Beers

THUNDER BAY – The vital link during winter for remote northern communities are the winter roads, or ice roads. Many of the vital supplies that are needed in the north can only come in by the winter roads. That vast network of roads are starting to come together as the weather turns colder.

The Ontario Government says it is making it easier for remote northern First Nations communities to get vital goods and services this winter. Through a $5-million investment from the Ontario government, 31 First Nations and the Town of Moosonee will have access to a 3,160-kilometre network of temporary roads over frozen ground and waterways.

Each year, winter roads connect remote northern communities to a permanent provincial highway or railway system. Individuals and businesses use the roads from freeze-up until spring thaw.

northern winter roads
Northern Ontario has an extensive network of Winter Roads.

Those roads are the links that lots of the housing supplies, groceries, and vital fuel for northern generators that power communities arrive in on a fairly economical basis. The winter roads also allow mining companies to transport in vital supplies.

Improving access for remote northern communities is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

Some interesting components of the winter roads. From the community of Fort Severn, the Washaho Cree Nation, the winter road connects to Thompson Manitoba.

The winter road into Attawapiskat allows both the community and the De Beers Diamond mine to get vital supplies into their areas. For Attawapiskat, the resurfacing machine that the community did fundraising for, came in on a barge, and then on the ice road.

For many northern communities, getting a vehicle into the community means either driving it in on the ice  road, or having it shipped in to the community in winter.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario’s 3,160-kilometre winter roads network is approximately the same driving distance as Timmins to Cranbrook, B.C.
  • Since October 2003, the Ontario government has invested more than $49 million through the Winter Roads Program.