The province is seeking feedback from Ontarians after releasing a draft of the long-awaited 2041 Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy on July 12.
Developed in partnership with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, the strategy will help guide provincial transportation policy for Northern Ontario’s transportation system over the next 25 years, and outlines goals with respect to all modes of transportation, including air, rail, road and marine.
“Our government is committed to ensuring a safe and efficient transportation network exists across the province, and especially in Northern Ontario,” said Steven Del Duca, minister of transportation, in a release.
“We know that there are unique challenges that people in the North face, whether you live in Kapuskasing, work in Sault Ste. Marie, or attend school in Thunder Bay.”
The strategy outlines five goals:
- Increase and modernize transportation options to support everyday living and economic activity in Northern Ontario.
- Enhance traveller safety and system reliability and minimize travel delays and complications.
- Work with remote and Far North communities to address unique transportation needs with more reliable connections between communities and to the all-season ground transportation network.
- Anticipate and respond to economic, technological, environmental and social change to link people, resources and businesses.
- Create a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system in Northern Ontario by reducing GHG and other environmental and human health impacts.
To increase transportation options, the province suggests “reinvigorating passenger rail service where appropriate,” in addition to four-laning the Trans-Canada Highway, and establishing a preferred highway route for oversize/overweight and commercial vehicles.
The strategy proposes expanding cell service across the transportation network and introducing more rest areas and pulloffs.
With regard to remote and Far North communities, the strategy proposes improving airport infrastructure and enhancing the quality of winter roads, but also suggests the expansion of the all-season road network “in partnership with interested First Nation communities and other levels of government and partners.”
There is even mention of promoting the production of local food to reduce the need for long-distance transportation of goods.
Residents and businesses are encouraged to provide feedback, via an online questionnaire, between July 12 and Sept. 15. Access the questionnaire here.
A final, more detailed action plan is slated to be released by the end of 2017.