A developed road network is something we may take for granted in Canada’s urban centres. The 401 is closed due to an accident? There are some scenic alternatives available. Canada is a vast country which makes road building and maintenance a daunting and prohibitively expensive task for government alone. The province of Ontario is no exception.
In rural and northern regions, forestry companies like EACOM have been building and maintaining access roads for decades to support their operations. This investment in infrastructure creates a network that increases accessibility to the land and connects communities that are underserved by the public road system.
“Forest roads do so much for the quality of life in Northern Ontario” explains Marc Trottier, Woodlands Superintendent at EACOM. “Our forests are a great public treasure; we are committed to looking after this resource and sharing its beauty and endless opportunities with our communities. Roads help access fishing lakes, cottages, hunting areas, camping areas, hiking trails, and other hidden treasures.”
In remote areas, one road can often be the lifeline of a community – its only connection to its distant neighbours and a vital supply line of food, medication and other goods. This is the case with many Aboriginal communities. In emergency situations like the wildfires we experienced this summer, having this road capacity for the movement of emergency vehicles and facilitating evacuations is essential. Because of government and industry investments, many roads, bridges and other water crossings are repaired and replaced annually, thereby reducing safety and environmental concerns.
“The West Branch Road, north west of Sudbury, is a great example! Its 160 kilometers help outdoor enthusiasts reach recreational destinations and provides access to many cottage owners and other business stake holders as well as the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation’s Ritchie Falls Resort” explains Trottier.
Through Ontario’s Provincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program, EACOM was responsible for the construction of 973 kilometers and the maintenance of 5,167 kilometers of roads in 2018 alone. That’s the equivalent of driving from Kingston to Sault Ste. Marie! This funding supports roads outside of the provincial highway network, strengthening multi-use public infrastructure.
“We are grateful to the Ontario Government for its commitment to northern and rural infrastructure through the Provincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program, not only as foresters, but as residents.”