2011-2012 Proposed Resolution: Feasibility Study – All Weather Road Norway House – Gillam

Mar 25, 2011 | Chamber News

Preamble: The Governments of Manitoba, Canada and Nunuvut’s study into linking an all-weather road from Rankin Inlet and Churchill to the National Highway system in Manitoba has concluded that this is feasible, and has recommended that the preferred route would begin at Gillam.  

Currently, there is a winter road between Norway House and Oxford House, linking to Gods Lake Narrows and Gods River. 

The Northern Food Prices Report 2003 states: 

“It is important to note that there is a direct relationship between road access to a community and lower costs for nutritious foods. In communities that have all-weather road access, the freight costs, the cost of doing business and therefore food prices are relatively competitive with southern food retailers. In addition, all weather road access allows residents to drive to nearby centres that offer even lower prices and sales.” 

Resolution:  That the Government of Manitoba ,  as part of an overall Northern Manitoba transportation and infrastructure strategy, conduct a study to examine the feasibility of building an all weather road between Norway House, Oxford House, Gods Lake Narrows and Gods River, with a view to extending the all-weather road north to Gillam. 

Argument: Winter roads, although built for an anticipated eight week usability, are not reliable.  In 2010, for example,  “Mild weather sweeping Manitoba has forced more than half of the province’s ice roads to close after less than a month, cutting off the winter lifelines for dozens of northern reserve” (Winnipeg Free Press March 11, 2010 online). 

Winter roads are likely to become even less dependable in the future.  A paper written by Dr. Danny Blair & Mr. Jeff Babb of the University of Winnipeg for Climate Change Connection (August 2008) states: 

“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the construction and use of these roads is very much at the mercy of the weather.  In particular, long-term observations and recent experiences clearly demonstrate that winter road operations are negatively affected by mild winter weather.” … 

“Regression analysis was used to investigate the strength and nature of this relationship, using 1986-2001 temperature data and winter road operations data for the Berens River region (long-term winter road data were not available for other regions of Manitoba).” …  

“The regression models only pertain to the Berens River region, and are based on a relatively small number of years.” … 

“On average, the models project winter-month temperatures to rise (relative to 1961-1990) by about 3°C, 5°C, and 7°C by the 2020’s, 2050’s and 2080’s, respectively.” 

“… it is clear that global warming over the coming decades and beyond presents Manitoba’s winter road operations with a variety of serious challenges.” 

An all-weather road opens up the opportunity for economic development, community growth and sustainability and allows for year round freighting of food, building supplies and other commodities.  As well it improves safety factors for times of crisis such as forest fires. 

Submitted by the Thompson Chamber of Commerce

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