Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

The mild weather has delayed ; winter road construction

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The ice road along the West Coast of James Bay between Moosonee and Attawapiskat is part of a network of winter roads that connects remote communities in Northern Ontario to the road network. (Archive photo)

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Construction of most winter roads in remote communities and First Nations in Northern Ontario is slow to begin due to temperatures of a rather mild winter recorded in December.

Referring to a report he received Friday from Indigenous Services Canada, David Pearson, professor emeritus at Laurentian University, indicates that the construction of a good number of winter roads has not started in December as usual.

Of the 31 communities that depend on winter roads to provide transportation during the winter, only seven have started construction.

A quote from David Pearson, professor emeritus at Laurentian University.

Winter road construction normally begins in December, and here we are at the end of the first week of January without the majority of indigenous communities having even started to build their winter roads, adds the professor.

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Scientist David Pearson has worked for several years with the First Nations of Northern Ontario. (File photo)

Trucks are therefore unable to supply communities, including delivering fuel and construction materials, as they normally do at this time of year.

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Consequence : prices are skyrocketing, especially for gasoline.

We do it by plane and that's why gasoline in these northern communities costs around $4.00 per liter, explains Mr. Pearson, who is interested in the consequences of climate change on First Nations. Northern Ontario Nations.

Everything is delivered by plane and when you are supplied by air, the cost of the products becomes very, very high, deplores Walter, a member of the Nibinamik community, an Oji-Cree First Nation in Northern Ontario.

Walter, concerned about the impact of a mild start to winter on his remote community, says without these roads connecting their remote communities to a permanent road or rail network, life is difficult.

We are cut off from others without the ice roads. We live on isolated reserves.

A quote from Walter, a member of the Nibinamik First Nation

Lack of construction materials, planned projects during next summer may have to be postponed.

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The overall winter road season has decreased by about half a day per year over the past 20 years, says the professor, who fears for the future of populations living in remote communities in the north of the province.

By the end of the century, in 2100, the winter road season for northern communities that still have to rely on a beautiful winter road will be about 3 or 4 weeks shorter than it is now, predicts David Pearson.

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