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Cold temperatures improving winter roads to northern First Nations

Friday, February 21st 2020, 10:15 am - Temperatures are expected to warm up this weekend in northern Ontario

Ontario Temperature Map

Cold temperatures are improving the condition of the winter road network serving northern Ontario First Nations.

Roads to five communities are now open to full loads, including the roads to Pikangikum, North Caribou Lake and Neskantaga, according to the Nishnawbe Aski Nation's winter road report; That's up from just one on Jan. 31.

Sixteen communities, including Muskrat Dam, Cat Lake, and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, now have roads open to partial loads, while seven – including Eabametoong and Webequie – have roads open to light traffic.

COMMUNITIES IN THE NORTH STILL HAVE ROADS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The chief of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, which had yet to open their road earlier this month, had expressed concern at the time that the community may not be able to bring in building materials for a new school using the road network. Donny Morris is hoping those deliveries can now be completed, he said.

Individual residents have also been taking advantage of the road, he added.

"People travelling back and forth getting bulk stuff for their own personal use, that's picking up a lot," he said.

Three communities in the north, including Keewaywin, still have roads under construction, according to the NAN report. That's down from six at the end of January.

Temperatures in communities such as Muskrat Dam and Webequie, are set to warm to above zero on the weekend, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, which will be followed by another cold snap with temperatures in Sandy Lake and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug staying around minus 13.

The freeze-thaw trend is expected to carry on into March, meteorologist Gerald Cheng told CBC.

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