THUNDER BAY – For northern communities, freezing cold temperatures bring in the conditions that help open the winter ice roads. The Winter Ice Road help northern communities in getting in needed supplies at a more affordable rate. Winter roads in the connect 31 remote First Nation communities to a permanent highway or railway system. From around mid January until spring thaw (usually late March), these roads make it easier and less costly for people to travel and bring in supplies.
This year, one of the commodities being transported north is education.
Cambrian College has invested $2 million into a high tech portable classroom that is headed north to Webequie First Nation.
The portable classroom will head north with a goal of arriving in Webequie on Fabruary 4th.
Grocery Prices in the North
Prices in Northern Communities for fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables are very high. So too are prices for diesel fuel and gasoline. The Winter Roads help reduce those costs, and also in some cases allow local residents the opportunity to head out themselves and purchase their major staples.
The price of a litre of gasoline in the north can be as high as $3.29 per litre. That compares to a price in Thunder Bay of $1.05 to $1.249 on January 17th (Source: Gas Prices)
The Northern Winter Roads offer freedom for people to get out of their communities and shop, visit, or bring in major purchases. In some northern communities their only usual option for shopping is the Northern Store. Getting out to larger centres like Dryden, Thunder Bay, Kenora, Timmins and beyond offers a welcome respite.
There is a great opportunity for communities in the ‘southern communities’ to reach out to northern community residents to get them shopping in their communities or individual shops. It is an opportunity not fully realized.
Looking to the future, as weather changes, the Winter Road season may get shorter. Right now cold weather is something everyone in the north is excited to see freezing temperatures. Those cold temperatures mean a longer season.
Just like people in Thunder Bay head south to Duluth on long weekends, people in the North head south too for shopping opportunities once the Winter Roads are open.
Ice Road Truckers Season 2: Shooting in High-Depth by History Channel
Patrolling the Northern Ice Roads
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service North East Region are advising the citizens of the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation who will be travelling on the James Bay winter roads that regular police patrols will once again be instated. Winter roads and snowmobile trails will be patrolled to promote Safe Use, to enforce Provincial Offences such as Alcohol bootlegging, and to enforce Criminal Code offences such as Impaired Driving and Drug Trafficking.
Possession of drugs and/or alcohol for sale and distribution in the northern communities is not a Victimless Crime. The Nishnawbe-Aski Police encourage the public to either contact the local NAPS Detachment or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) with any information on the illegal transportation of drugs and alcohol.
If you have any comments about the winter roads please call the NAPS Non-Emergency Toll-Free Number 1-855-847-NAPS (6277) and leave your important message.
Winter Road Conditions
You can keep aware of the latest winter road conditions at Road Conditions on NetNewsledger.