News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 24, 2012

NEW BRIDGES EXTEND WINTER ROAD SEASON AS CONSTRUCTION OF PERMANENT ROADS TO EAST-SIDE COMMUNITIES CONTINUES


Approximately 200 Jobs Created, 162 Local People Trained Since 2009: Selinger

GODS RIVER-The East Side Transportation Initiative is creating hundreds of jobs and training and economic opportunities related to construction of a permanent road network to connect isolated communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, Premier Greg Selinger said today during a visit to Manto Sipi Cree Nation for a first‑hand look at progress on the initiative. 

“Creating more jobs and training opportunities for more Manitobans is our government’s focus as we help grow the province’s economy in difficult times,” said Selinger.  “Every region of this province can prosper when we work together to invest in people and foster new opportunities.”

The premier noted that a series of new permanent and temporary bridges related to all-season road network construction and preparation will allow the East Side Road Authority (ESRA) to extend the winter road season in some areas by as much as two weeks.

“Winter roads in our region are no longer reliable,” said Manto Sipi Chief Michael Yellowback.  “Our First Nation is pleased to work with the province to extend the winter road season immediately as we train and hire local residents who will eventually build and maintain permanent roads.  Twelve Manto Sipi community members graduated from an introductory construction training course earlier this month.”

Work is underway to install new bridges to communities in the Island Lake region that will help extend the length of time residents can use the winter roads by eliminating ice crossings.  The first bridge will be installed over the Mainland River in time for next year’s winter road season while the second bridge will be delivered this winter to a site at Feather Rapids on the Stevenson River, said Selinger.  The ESRA is also working with Red Sucker Lake First Nation on the installation of a third bridge over the Red Sucker River.

The ESRA reports work is also progressing well on the southern portion of the permanent road network.  A new bridge over the Wanipigow River at kilometre one and a seven-km section of the permanent road to Berens River from km 48 to 55 were recently completed.  Construction of new bridges over Loon and Longbody creeks and five km of the permanent road (km 88 to 93) near Bloodvein First Nation is now underway.  In addition, Manitoba is working with the federal government and Bloodvein First Nation on a pilot project to construct a 2.5-km access road that will link Bloodvein First Nation to the new all-season road network.

“Our government is committed to moving forward on the all-season road project,” said Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, minister responsible for the ESRA.  “As the project proceeds, the federal government has an opportunity to build on its initial commitment to cost share the access road to Bloodvein.  This is a good start but a much more significant commitment from Canada is required to complete the permanent road network in a reasonable time frame.”

The minister noted the road network will serve an area comprising nearly 97 per cent First Nations residents under direct federal jurisdiction.  He added that permanent roads will prevent the need to expensive airlifts of goods when the winter roads fail, an increasingly common occurrence in recent years.  

The East Side Transportation Initiative is a plan to provide safer and more-reliable transportation between communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and the rest of the province while providing training and economic opportunities for local residents, the premier said.

A route-selection study completed in November 2010 by the ESRA recommended two main arteries:  one for communities at the southern end of the region and another for the northern end.  Southern east‑side communities including Berens River will be connected to PR 304 at Hollow Water, while Manto Sipi and the Island Lake communities will be connected through PR 373 at Norway House.  Both routes are aligned with existing winter road cuts wherever possible.

Maps and other information about the initiative are available at: www.eastsideroadauthority.mb.ca/construction_underway.html.

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