These Ontarians rely on roads made of snow and ice. But what happens when winter is too warm? – by Joy SpearChief-Morris (Toronto Star – January 15, 2024)

Winter roads crucial for getting supplies to First Nations communities

OTTAWA — Higher than normal winter temperatures are sparking concern among remote First Nations communities in northern Ontario that rely on winter roads made of ice and snow to transport food, fuel and building supplies.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations communities across the province, includes 29 communities that depend on winter roads. As of Jan. 8, it said only one road was fully open to traffic — leaving some to use roads that haven’t been officially opened, and others scrambling to make their own snow.

Winter roads are created over frozen rivers and lakes so trucks can be used to deliver consumer goods, food, fuel and building supplies to remote communities that are otherwise accessibly only by boat or plane.

But creating the roads requires both snow and temperatures that are typically in the -30 C to -40 C range. This winter, some northern Ontario communities are experiencing temperatures about 10 C warmer, and a lack of snow.

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