BLOODVEIN, Man. - When freight comes up here it generally arrives in one of three ways: the Manitoba Northern Airports-operated gravel airstrip, the provincial ferry from Pine Dock, or via a winter ro...
BLOODVEIN, Man. – When freight comes up here it generally arrives in one of three ways: the Manitoba Northern Airports-operated gravel airstrip, the provincial ferry from Pine Dock, or via a winter road that can include up to 16 kilometres of ice crossing.
Now Bloodvein, Man., and several other communities on the eastern side of Lake Winnipeg, may soon have the option they’ve been requesting for a long time – an all-weather road.
A provincial report entitled All-Weather Road East Side of Lake Winnipeg: Justification and Scoping Study Executive Summary concludes that, “because of rapid population growth … an all-weather road can be justified for many of these communities.”
According to the document, the region’s population has been growing at a rate of about 2.5 to five per cent per year. As a result, a north-south route linking Manigotogan to Bloodvein, Berens River, St. Theresa/Wasagamack, Garden Hill, Gods Lake Narrows and Oxford House would provide an annual cost benefit of $65.9 million.
In addition to the basic transportation cost savings, this amount considers several direct benefits, including potential forestry harvesting, resource development and enlarged fisheries opportunities.
As well, an all-weather road from the south up to St. Theresa/Wasagamack would dramatically increase the cost-benefit ratio. The total number of jobs created in the province may even reach 1,000; 200 to 400 of which are expected to go to residents of First Nations communities.
The report was prepared for the Department of Highways and Government Service by an independent consulting firm under the direction of a steering committee that included representatives from the First Nation Tribal Councils in the study area, representatives of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada and provincial representatives.
“The majority of communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg support an all-weather road on the basis of reduced cost of living, more reliable emergency service, improved health, education and social services, and enhanced personal travel opportunities,” states the report. “(However) these same communities have concerns about the impact of an all-weather road and the resulting resource development on traditional lifestyles, land use, the environment and control over their future destinies.”
The official document downplays the idea of a route running from Norway House (or Cross Lake) stating that its, “lower capital cost is offset by lower transportation cost savings and lower development potential.”
However, expansion of on-going resource projects would justify the construction.
“Mild winter conditions have, and are, a significant cost issue for winter road systems,” the report concludes.
“If global warming forecasts are even partially correct, the frequency of weather-related road system failures will become regular and very expensive occurrences.” n