The repair of a historical bridge is good news for Nipissing First Nation in more ways than one.
Nipissing MPP and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli announced the province will spend $12 million to replace the Duchesnay Creek bridge along Highway 17b in North Bay.
He says the project has some historical significance.
“This is a really unique bridge as well, it was built in 1937, so it is 82 years old. It is a timber bridge and the last timber bridge remaining in Ontario,” said Fedeli at a media event on the bridge Friday morning.
“So because it is under the Ontario Heritage Act the new bridge will be timber girders and wooden decorative pieces as well so it is going to be a very exciting and unique project in Ontario as well.”
What is also special about the project is that it marks the beginning of a unique partnership between Miller Paving and Nipissing First Nation which will work together on the bridge project.
“Nipissing First Nation has built a strong business relationship with Miller over the past 15 years, and this announcement represents the fruits of our relationship-building, said Chief Scott McLeod, Nipissing First Nation.
“This bridge is immediately adjacent to our territory and we are pleased to be part of the local economy. It’s these kinds of opportunities that First Nations have been seeking for a long time, but have been historically shut out of through current processes. We acknowledge the Government of Ontario for supporting this proposal, which marks a significant change in the way of doing business and a real step forward toward reconciliation. This means real opportunities for our people – not just platitudes and promises.”
The project which will take at least two years to complete will also see a new entrance created into Duchesnay village.
“We are locked in by one entrance to our community and in the plans of the construction project we are looking at establishing another route into the community of Duchesnay which is going to mitigate a major safety factor that has been plaguing our village for years,” stated McLeod.