Canada and Ontario invest in roads and bridges for rural communities in Northern Ontario

News release

Atikokan, Ontario, June 25, 2020—The governments of Canada and Ontario recognize the different ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted smaller communities across the province. While moving towards recovery, investments in infrastructure in rural and northern Ontario are vital to successful, sustainable communities and their economies.

Today, the Honourable Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Rainy River, on behalf of Maryam Monsef, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development; the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and Mayor Dennis Brown, Town of Atikokan, announced funding for 12 airport, road and bridge projects in Northern Ontario.

In the Town of Atikokan, approximately 11 kilometres of road are being improved, including 3 kilometres of new curbing. This project will improve access to main roads for emergency responders, improving residents’ safety.

The regional airports in Gore Bay and Hornepayne will receive upgrades that include a new airport terminal, an expansion of a secondary runway, improvements to security and wildlife fencing; and repaving the runway and installing a new LED lighting system along the runway. These upgrades will reduce maintenance and service interruptions, offering passengers a higher quality service.

Other projects include road improvements in Chapple, Wawa, Thessalon, Smooth Rock Falls, Nairn and Hyman, Sheshegwaning First Nation and White River. In addition, bridge repairs and replacements will create safer and more efficient driving conditions for Laird and Kapuskasing.  

The Government of Canada is investing over $23 million in these projects through the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream (RNIS) of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is contributing more than $12 million for these important infrastructure projects in these northern communities. Municipalities and a First Nation community are contributing over $5 million in total towards the projects.

The governments of Canada and Ontario are working in collaboration with their partners to support jobs, improve communities and build confidence as we safely and sustainably restore economic growth.


“Rural communities help build our nation. By investing in projects like these, we are helping to make them thrive, become more competitive and we are contributing to our country’s economic recovery in these unprecedented times. These projects will help create well-paying, stable jobs during the construction phase, and they will have positive and long-lasting effects on residents and businesses well into the future.”

The Honourable Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay–Rainy River, on behalf of Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“Investing in ‘shovel ready projects’ like these helps to create jobs and improve the lives of residents in these northern and First Nations communities. By investing in new roads and bridges and improvements to regional airports, we can help drive local economic development and move people and goods safely and effectively across the Algoma Region.”

The Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

“The funding announced today represents a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for the Town of Atikokan and its residents. The completion of this paving project, in particular, the O’Brien St. reconstruction, will allow for decreased emergency response times and safer patient transfer to the airport. This program will allow for the repaving of nearly 30% of the Town’s roads. We couldn’t have done this without the generous support from our Federal and Provincial government partners.”

His Worship Dennis Brown, Mayor of the Town of Atikokan

“I am overjoyed and very grateful that Wawa has received over $4 million in funding from the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada plan. This essential and necessary funding will go towards improving 2.5 km of roadway to three of our schools. Generous Federal and Provincial funding support for this critical project will help to create a much safer environment for Wawa’s youth to attend school, with new accessible pedestrian crossings, bike lanes and a new bus loading zone.”

His Worship Ron Rody, Mayor of the Municipality of Wawa

“This is a long-awaited funding opportunity that comes at a perfect time to help stimulate our community’s economy and assist in the recovery from COVID-19. Thank you to all the various parties for funding our project!”

His Worship Angelo Bazzoni, Mayor of the Township of White River

“This funding allows us to move forward with the much-needed widening and resurfacing of nearly 2 km of Old Nairn Road, a vital arterial road in our town, improving traffic flow and increasing safety and security for drivers and pedestrians. This project also supports the economic development of our community and will help our businesses grow with a safer and more reliable transportation route.”

Belinda Ketchabaw, Chief Administrative Officer, Clerk/Treasurer for the Township of Nairn and Hyman

Quick facts

  • Through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

  • $2 billion of this funding is supporting infrastructure projects that meet the unique needs of rural and northern communities like facilities to support food security, local access roads and enhanced broadband connectivity.

  • Ontario is investing $10.2 billion under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green, and rural and northern community infrastructure.

  • The Rural Economic Development Strategy leverages ongoing federal investments and provides a vision for the future, identifying practical steps to take in the short term, and serving as a foundation to guide further work.

  • Central to Canada’s Connectivity Strategy are historic new investments that are mobilizing up to $6 billion toward universal connectivity. They include a top-up to the Connect to Innovate Program, a new Universal Broadband Fund, and investments from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

  • On June 3, 2020, Ontario announced it was investing $150 million to launch the Improving Connectivity in Ontario program to fund broadband infrastructure projects in rural, remote and underserved regions of Ontario. This is part of the province's $315 million initiative Up to Speed: Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.

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Marie-Pier Baril
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Christine Bujold
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure

Sofia Sousa-Dias
Communications Branch
Ontario’s Ministry of Infrastructure

Leah Fraser
Deputy Clerk
Town of Atikokan
807-597-1234 ext. 224

Media Relations
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