Residents are anxiously-waiting for an update on the Trans-Canada twinning project. While no new announcements have been made, local politicians Bob Nault and Greg Rickford haven’t minced words about the project’s delay.

“I’ve got a list as long as my arm of road and highway infrastructure programs that the Ontario government is waiting to hear back from the federal government to see if they’ve approved them,” noted Kenora Rainy-River MPP, and Minister responsible for Indigenous Services, Energy, and Northern Development and Mines, Greg Rickford.

Earlier this month, Kenora MP Bob Nault said that a formal application for the twinning project from the provincial government to the federal government hasn’t been sent to Ottawa yet, but he’s still hoping to see shovels in the ground this fall.

Many northwestern Ontario voices have shared concerns or expressed their frustrations with the original $100 million allocated to the project disappearing from the books last year – despite the provincial government’s re-commitment to the project earlier this year.

“From 2015 to 2018, our federal member - Bob Nault - could have stood up to say ‘no you’re not taking that $100 million dedicated to this project, we’re moving forward with it’. Instead, under his watch, it walked out of here.”

“Mr. Nault has been well-aware of this project for a very, very long time. There were 3 full years where the liberals spent money in every other part of the province, except Kenora, and put that $100 million into other projects.”

“If this project was important to him, why did he let that $100 million walk out the door in that 3 year window?” asked Rickford.

The Ontario government approved a portion of funding for the first phase of the project in their 2019 spring budget, after the initial $100 million announced in 2009 was spent on twinning a highway east of Thunder Bay, due to a lack of action on the Trans-Canada twinning project.

Rickford adds that on the provincial side, consultations with communities and area First Nations are nearly complete, and staff are working to finalize the technical details in their engineering studies.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario says that they’re also finalizing their plans and environmental approvals for the project. Ministry staff add they’re working with property owners, municipalities and First Nations to identify and mitigate any potential for negative impacts from the project.

Ultimately, both politicians agree that partisan issues should be pushed aside to complete the project, and both just want to see shovels in the ground as soon as possible.

“I’m happy to work closely with him. We’ve worked on projects together. Hopefully he’ll come to the table in a responsible manner. People want to see us working together to get this project done. Folks can look forward to construction getting underway in the very near future. That’s the bottom line,” said Rickford.

With Freedom Road officially now open, a barrier has been removed for the go-ahead on the project. The twinning of the Trans-Canada from Kenora to the Manitoba border is expected to be done in three sections:

- Section #1: Between the Manitoba - Ontario Border and Hwy. 673
- Section #2: Between Hwy. 673 and Rush Bay Road
- Section #3: Between Rush Bay Road and Hwy. 17A

When the project was announced close to a decade ago, the federal and provincial governments each set aside $50 million for the project. The funds were announced by former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Greg Rickford – while he was a federal MP for the Kenora riding.

Schedule for twinning the Trans-Canada released for last winter's open house.
For more information:
Rickford determined to start twinning this fall
Not ready for twinning yet, Nault