By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger says residents of the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation deserve to see an all-weather road to their community move forward.
Selinger addressed a rally in Winnipeg on Saturday calling for the road to the community, which was cut off from the mainland a century ago during construction of an aqueduct to send clean water to Winnipeg.
Without a permanent road, residents rely on an aging barge in the summer and a treacherous ice road in the winter.
The First Nation is located on the Manitoba-Ontario boundary, and Selinger says in a news release that he recently spoke with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne about the issue.
He says Wynn also expressed Manitoba’s concern with the people from Shoal Lake 40.
Both Manitoba and Winnipeg have said they will pay for one-third each of the road’s construction if Ottawa kicks in the rest of the estimated $30-million cost.
“The provincial government remains steadfast in its commitment to share in building this road,” Selinger said in the release.
Selinger noted that many residents have lost their lives crossing the ice.
The Shoal Lake community has been under a boil-water advisory for 17 years due to a dam which funnels tainted water away from the Winnipeg aqueduct and towards the reserve.
The province says the lack of road access has long been identified as a barrier to economic opportunity for the community, and causing high costs which have prevented the construction of key community infrastructure, including a water treatment plant.
The federal Liberal party and the NDP have promised to fund the road if elected in October.
A 90-day crowdfunding campaign over the summer to pay for the federal government’s share road fell short, raising only $101,000 of the desired $10 million.