Northern Ontario Multi-modal transportation study rolls toward finish – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – January 11, 2016)

The province is about a year away from rolling out a multi-modal transportation strategy for the North.

Since 2011, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has been studying how people and freight move across the region and have been regularly meeting with regional stakeholders to gather their feedback on how to plan and improve transportation infrastructure over the next 25 years.

Tija Dirks, the MTO’s director of transportation planning, estimates a final report will be presented to premier and cabinet by January, 2017. The strategy is tied to the government’s Growth Plan for Northern Ontario. Once revealed it will provide short, medium and long-term solutions to improve the region’s transportation systems for road, rail, marine, air and other modes.

On the information-gathering and fact-finding side, Dirks said they are about 80 per cent done. On the report-writing side, it’s about 25 per cent. “It’s starting to begin to come together.”

The original timelines were to release the draft plan this winter, but a provincial election — with a new transportation minister appointed — and periodic check-ins with government for direction have pushed the timelines out another 12 months.

The MTO hired consultants beginning in 2012 to conduct interviews with stakeholders in the mining, forestry, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors, with input from First Nation, Métis and municipal leadership, on their future transportation needs.

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