Berens River residents hope all-weather road boosts economy, tourism
The once-isolated Berens River First Nation celebrated the completion of a $200-million all-weather road Tuesday and the hope it will spur ecotourism and other economic opportunities.
The 2,000-member community greeted provincial Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler with soup, bannock with butter and jam, and tea after his four-hour trek from Winnipeg. “It’s supposed to be very beautiful in the summer, but driving up in winter was just magnificent,” Schuler said upon his arrival.
Berens River Mayor Allan Atlookan said community elders have spoken about a year-round road link for decades. Some have died before they could witness the realization of that dream. “It’s over 40 to 50 years in the making,” he told reporters in a telephone conference call.”It is an opening to the world out there for not just the local… people, but for tourism. The doors are starting to open up for us.”
However, it’s unknown when other communities along the east side of Lake Winnipeg — to the north and to the east of Berens River — will have the opportunity to host their own celebrations.
Schuler could not provide a timeline for construction of any new sections of the proposed multibillion-dollar road project.
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