Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says it's gonna happen. On a recent visit, she addressed twinning the Trans-Canada.

"We still want to twin the highway," she said with a bit of a chuckle. "We have not moved back from that position. We want to get started. As you know, there is a conversation that has started with the community. We know that this is a priority for northwestern Ontario.

However, the premier was less clear about $100 million set aside nine years ago for the project.

"It is still a priority for us to twin Hwy. 17, yes," she said, when asked about the allocation made by the premier and the prime minister in 2009.

Ontario Liberals released their northern platform last week, and noted they'd made good progress on twinning between Thunder Bay and Nipigon, as well as along Hwy. 69 to Sudbury.

The party is also promising permanent annual funding to four-lane the TransCanada highway from the Manitoba border to the Quebec border until the project is fully completed, as well as call on the federal government to match the investment.

Joshua Henry from the Ministry of Transportation said in an email last week the majority of design and engineering work has been completed for twinning the first 15 km from the Manitoba border east to Kenora. Henry added the ministry continues to work towards completing necessary route planning work to identify a four-lane corridor on the remaining 25 kilometres between Rush Bay Road and Kenora.

"In both cases, before construction can commence, we have several steps to complete including obtaining environmental clearances and completing consultations with First Nations and Métis communities, to identify and mitigate any potential adverse impacts as a result of the project," Henry noted.

Shoal Lake 40 Chief Erwin Redsky has been on record as saying he'd like to see Freedom Road -- which will link the island community with the Trans-Canada -- completed first, before he'll give consent for the twinning of the Trans-Canada.

Last fall, Kenora MP Bob Nault said he was caught by surprise, when he was told about a provincial report that said twinning Hwy. 17 wouldn't happen until 2021 at the earliest. He also said it was possible the $100 million set aside for twinning near the Manitoba border had been used elsewhere.

For more information:

Wynne defends record in NWO

Nault 'shocked' by delay

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