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Province to invest in rural northern roads


Both the government of Canada and the government of Ontario organized a joint federal, provincial, municipal and First Nation funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan that will support 12 road, airport and bridge projects in northern Ontario. The implementation of these projects will strengthen infrastructure in rural communities and support economic growth.

This project is called the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream and will cost about $40 million. The government of Canada is contributing over $23 million. The government of Ontario is contributing about $12 million and other municipalities and a First Nation community are contributing about $5 million towards the projects.

Marcus Powlowski, MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, said these projects will help create well-paying, stable jobs during the construction phase and they will have positive and long-lasting effects on residents and businesses well into the future.

“Rural communities help build our nation,” Powlowski said. “By investing in projects like these, we are helping to make them thrive, become more competitive and we are contributing to our country’s economic recovery in these unprecedented times.”

Among the projects is the Atikokan Resurfacing and Curbing project where about 11 kilometres are being improved, including three kilometres dedicated to new curbing. The implementation of this is said to improve residents’ safety by improving access to the main roads for emergency responders, increase motorist safety and improve the flow of traffic. The monetary value of the funding dedicated to the Atikokan project is about $5 million.

Another project is in Smooth Rock Falls, and will cost about $6 million. This project will entail rehabilitating Main St., Dupont St. and Kelly Road. The project will also include improvements to the intersections, sidewalk ramps and ditching and landscaping of the boulevard.

According to the press release, other projects include road improvements in Wawa, Thessalon, Chapple, Smooth Rock Falls, Nairn and Hyman, Sheshegwaning First Nation and White River. In addition, bridge repairs and replacements will create safer and more efficient driving conditions for Laird and Kapuskasing.

Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure, said these projects helps create more jobs and improves the lives of residents in northern Ontario.

“By investing in new roads and bridges and improvements to regional airports, we can help drive local economic development and move people and goods safely and effectively across the Algoma Region,” she said.

Whenever there is a project that combines federal, provincial and municipal funds, concerns rise on whether the bill will come as expected.

Powlowski said that in the case of road repairs, it is a lot easier to stick to budget. If you do not have enough money, you just do a little less road. It is a little harder to justify cost overruns, he added.

The Investing in Canada infrastructure program is Canada-wide.

Besides investing in Canada’s northern and rural communities, the government of Canada is spending a total of more than $180 billion over 12 years in projects related to public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure and trade and transportation routes.

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