Climate change threatens northern Ontario’s winter road system — so what can be done about it? – by Sarah Law (CBC News Thunder Bay – January 17, 2024)

Cat Lake First Nation has had to make its own snow this season

Tyler Tyance is all too familiar with the long days, cold nights and dangers of constructing northern Ontario’s winter roads, but this year, his crew faces a new challenge: not enough snow.

Winter roads are a lifeline for remote First Nations, which rely on seasonal routes to get essential supplies to their communities. Tyance, owner of the Rezneck Diesel Crew, has been building the road to Cat Lake First Nation, about 180 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout, over the past several weeks. “You’re pretty much at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Tyance said. “It’s really, really tough on your body and really exhausting.”

Last year, he broke through the ice while operating a snow-grooming machine and had to quickly climb out so his crew could pull out the machine before it froze.

This time last year, the Cat Lake road was open to light traffic. But due to unusually warm temperatures this year, they’re weeks behind schedule. The community has borrowed snow guns from the Dryden Ski Club to help pack down the muskeg and Tyance is using a self-contained unit from Alberta with two industrial snow guns attached.

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