The long-awaited four-laning and widening of a narrow, notoriously hair-raising stretch of Highway 17 between Kenora and the Manitoba border could take up to eight years to complete.
But the prospect of a timely completion on the 40-kilometre route is expected to be greater under a new spirit of cooperation between provincial and Indigenous interests, official said this week.
The way to getting the project started was paved on Wednesday, with the signing of a memorandum agreement between the province and Niiwin Wendaanimok (Four Winds), a consortium of four First Nations whose traditional lands include the highway corridor.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, along with Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford, met in Kenora to sign the agreement in a ceremony attended by Treaty 3 Grand Council Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh.
The four First Nations involved in the consortium are Washagamis Bay Shoal Lake 40, Wauzhushk Onigum and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe.
“This memorandum of understanding will guide the relationship (between the province and the First Nations) and the engagement processes for the project in the spirit of co-operation and collaboration,” a provincial news release said.
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