News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 25, 2015

MANITOBA GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS SUPPORT TO BUILD FREEDOM ROAD


Proposed Amendments to Legislation Would Mandate Manitoba East Side Road Authority to Build Road: Minister Robinson

Families living on the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation are another step closer to gaining all-season road access, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson announced today, as he introduced proposed legislation which would expand the mandate of the Manitoba East Side Road Authority (ESRA) to include building Freedom Road.

“Today is a historic day for the families of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.  By taking on this construction project we will dramatically change the way of living for people living there,” said Minister Robinson.  “It’s not just about all-season road access, it’s about jobs and opportunities and everything that goes with that.  From clean drinking water, cheaper transportation costs and better access to social services – this road would be a new beginning for Shoal Lake 40.”

“It has been a long struggle for our First Nation.  Our imposed ‘isolation’ has finally become an internationally recognized issue,” said Chief Erwin Redsky, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.  “It’s deeply satisfying that the government of Manitoba is committing funding and enabling the delivery agency to bring our road into reality.”

Freedom Road is a proposed, 28-kilometre all-season road connecting the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation to the Trans-Canada Highway for a total estimated investment of $30 million.  The minister noted the province’s share of funding is conditional on matching dollars from both the government of Canada and the City of Winnipeg.

“The Manitoba East Side Road Authority is ready to get to work,” said Ernie Gilroy, CEO, ESRA.  “Building roads where no one has before is what we do.  We have the experience and the team to get the job done.  I look forward to working with all levels of government and Chief Redsky to building this road and building a new future for families of Shoal Lake 40.”

The minister noted promoting local benefits is a key obligation of both Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg under the terms of the 1989 Tripartite Agreement, which constrains normal economic development activities on Shoal Lake 40 lands surrounding Winnipeg’s drinking water intake.

The minister noted a detailed design of the project is currently underway and anticipated to be completed in the winter of 2016.  Following funding agreements from all other levels of government involved, construction could start as early as this winter season, he added.

“The new federal government committed during the federal election that they will be a partner in this project.  My talks with the newminister have been very encouraging,” said Minister Robinson.  “I’m looking forward to working with both the federal government and the City of Winnipeg on getting this road built.”

The construction of Freedom Road will be similar to that of other projects managed by ESRA.  Community Benefits Agreements and open tendering will be part of this project to ensure Shoal Lake 40 residents benefit from start to finish, the minister said.

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The Province of Manitoba is distributing this release on bahalf of the government of Manitoba and the Manitoba East Side Road Authority.