FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Ontario Provincial Police closed Highway 61 on the Kaministiquia River Bridge after an accident this morning with traffic halted on both sides, which left Fort William First Nation once again without immediate access to and from the First Nation. The alternate road route that travellers had to navigate was north of the Trans-Canada, taking Highway 130 and getting back onto Highway 61.
Fort William First Nation is requesting that a more direct alternate route be put in place immediately to prevent a tragic situation from happening. Today there was an emergency situation in the First Nation community where a member waited over an hour for an ambulance to arrive at the residence.
“I am asking the Federal Government, the Premier and the Ministry of Transportation to work together and respond to how we can resolve this critical matter.” said Chief Peter Collins. “Time and time again our members and people travelling from the city have been prevented access to the First Nation due to accidents on this stretch of highway. This is unacceptable and needs to stop.”
Fort William First Nation has made several attempts to address the James Street Bridge closure with CN, municipal, provincial and federal ministries and will continue to pursue these avenues to come to a solution. The discussions thus far have not resulted in the development or construction of a new bridge or alternate route.
“The impacts of the bridge closure have weighed heavily on the residents of the First Nation and the city of Thunder Bay. They are ultimately frustrated and concerned for their safety and well-being, whether it is with travelling the highway or being cut off when an accident happens.” reiterated, Chief Collins. Fort William First Nation will continue pressing this issue and will not sit idly by while the lives of people are at stake. It is the hope of the First Nation that this latest incident will move this serious issue onto the radar of all levels of government to work to expedite the process.