Thunder Bay: Warm temperatures still hampering winter road access to northern First Nations – by Heather Kitching (CBC News Thunder Bay – March 9, 2020)

Fort Severn and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug still waiting on infrastructure components

Warm weather continues to play havoc with winter roads to northwestern Ontario First Nations. Roads to all communities are now open to at least partial loads, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s winter road update published Friday.

However roads to three communities – Deer Lake, Bearskin Lake and Eabametoong – remain open to only partial loads, and some roads that are listed as open to full loads may need to restrict them at times.

Fort Severn’s road just opened at the end of February, approximately two weeks later than usual, and Chief Paul Burke has already sent a crew out to address problems, he said.

“We went back out to check ice thicknesses,” Burke said, “and one lake, even though it was cleared, is not thick enough, so we’re going to have to make that bypass around one lake.” The community is waiting on food, fuel, and materials for a new water treatment plant, Burke said.

The winter roads get worse every year, he added, and this year has been the worst yet.

‘We had vehicles busting through the ice or the muskeg’

“We had vehicles busting through the ice or the muskeg… every day,” he said of the construction process. “I think they said the least number of times the machines broke through was five and the most was in the high teens… in one day. This is one day.”

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