Another step taken on proposed Ring of Fire road
By Adam FreillInfrastructure Roads
Roadway viewed as opportunity to unlock jobs and economic opportunities in Ontario’s Ring of Fire region.
Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations have announced they will be submitting a Terms of Reference for the proposed Northern Road Link Environmental Assessment in Ontario. According to a statement from the premier’s office, the proposed road is the final piece of critical road infrastructure needed to ensure reliable, all-season road access to potential mining sites in the Ring of Fire and connect both First Nations communities to Ontario’s highway network.
“Our government is connecting industries, resources and workers in the north to the auto and EV battery manufacturers in the south so we can unlock the full economic potential of northern Ontario,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Today is a landmark day as we work side by side with our Indigenous partners to ensure that communities around the Ring of Fire have access to the roads needed to not only support development but also improve access to every-day essentials like fuel, groceries and healthcare.”
Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are co-leading the planning of the Northern Road Link project as part of a partnership with the province. Ontario has committed close to $1 billion to support critical legacy infrastructure, such as the planning and construction of an all-season road network, and investments in high-speed internet, road upgrades and other community supports.
“Our government is committed to partnerships with First Nations communities to build legacy infrastructure projects that will become the Corridor to Prosperity,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are leading the environmental assessments because they share a strong vision for sustainable development and prosperity for their communities.”
Mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire region are viewed as an economic opportunity that will reach across the Far North. Connecting the mineral rich opportunities with manufacturing sectors in Southern Ontario hold the potential for the province to become a leading producer across North America of the critical minerals needed for electric vehicles.
“Our partnership sets a new precedence in the region on Indigenous proponency,” said Chief Bruce Achneepineskum of the Marten Falls First Nation. “As we prepare to submit the terms of reference for the Northern Road Link project it is important to remember why we are here and what this represents. We are leading the Northern Road Link because the project is in our traditional territory and we are exercising our right to self-determination. This represents a potentially bright future for our future generations, for our neighbours, and for the region.”
“Webequie First Nation is proud of this important milestone in our collaboration with Marten Falls First Nation,” said Chief Cornelius Wabasse of the Webiquie First Nation. “The NRL project is an Indigenous-led environmental assessment, which integrates Indigenous-principles with the provincial process. We look forward to discuss the NRL project with our Indigenous neighbours and key stakeholders.”
Ontario’s Ring of Fire region is one of the most promising mineral development opportunities for critical minerals in the province. Located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, it covers about 5,000 square kilometres and holds potential for production of chromite, nickel, copper and platinum.
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