Residents, partners, and elected officials gathered at the Band Office in Garden River First Nation this morning to celebrate the completion of the $16.9 million Highway 17B resurfacing project with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
A 20-kilometre stretch of highway running through Garden River and Echo Bay has been completely redone, including fully paved shoulders for cyclists and pedestrians, right and left turn lanes, and the addition of curb and new lighting. Culvert, gutter, and guide rail work was also included in the transformation.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between project partners back in 2019 to initiate the process, and construction officially began in the summer of 2021.
The resurfacing of Highway 17B witnessed a number of Garden River First Nation community members receive training and jobs as a result of KSMM 2020, a unique partnership between Garden River First Nation, Miller Paving Limited and Shwe Miikaan Corporation, a construction company that’s owned jointly by Shawanaga, Magnetawan and Henvey Inlet First Nations.
Garden River First Nation Chief Andy Rickard is delighted with how the task turned out.
“This was a very beautiful experience for Garden River,” he says. “This was a very unique experience in that we were able to combine fellow First Nation communities in terms of this relationship. We might have had a few bumps along the way, but we were able to get through some of those challenges and signify a beautiful highway that runs through our community.”
Rickard explains that this project is a great example of how things can be achieved in Garden River.
“It leaves a legacy for our leadership and past leadership,” he says. “It speaks to the opportunities that exist for our community, and the potential opportunities in the future for projects we hope to bring here in Garden River.”