AECOM to conduct environmental assessment on road to Marten Falls, ON

26 November 2018 Authored by Consulting.ca

LA-based design and engineering juggernaut AECOM has been selected by the Marten Falls First Nations community to help complete the environmental assessment on a proposed road linking the community to Nakina, ON, 275 km northeast of Thunder Bay. The planned road is part of an Ontario infrastructure development project to link the resource-rich Ring of Fire area to existing highways.

In August 2017, the Ontario government announced that it would work with three remote northwestern Ontario First Nations communities (Webequie, Nibinamik, and Marten Falls) to build year-round access roads linking them to existing highway networks.

Centrally, the road linking the communities of Webequie and Nibinamik to existing highways near Pickle Lake would terminate at the mineral-rich Ring of Fire area in the James Bay Lowlands 575 km north of Thunder Bay. The Ring of Fire is the site of a massive planned chromite mining and smelting operation which has the potential to generate $120 billion and energize the economy of northern Ontario. The development project predictably faces a slew of challenges including environmental issues, Aboriginal land rights, and a severe deficit in infrastructure (electricity, broadband, rail, and roads). The proposed roads are the first step in chipping away at the lack of infrastructure in the remote area.AECOM to conduct environmental assessment on road to Marten Falls, ONMeanwhile, the proposed road to Marten Falls First Nations reserve would link the community with the highway at Nakina to the south, and as such, to Thunder Bay. There are hopes to extend the road further north from Marten Falls to the Ring of Fire and the massive economic opportunities therein – though such plans are, as yet, unrealized. Currently, transportation to Marten Falls is on a fly-in basis only.

The all-season access roads are currently in the environmental assessment (EA) stage. The Marten Falls First Nation has already conducted one field season of baseline surveys, but has now called in Los Angeles-based global design and engineering consultancy AECOM to complete the EA process. The firm’s specialists will consult with Marten Falls and affected communities, collect data, and prepare the technical studies and documents required by the EA process.

"We are very pleased to note that AECOM brought a consortium of sub-consultants together to form a world-class team that includes local consulting firms who have recently worked successfully with First Nations to deliver similar all-season community access roads in other provinces,” commented Marten Falls Chief Achneepineskum. “This project is an opportunity to move forward on addressing many socio-economic needs of the community, including access to more affordable food and housing, access to training, education, health-care, employment, and access to neighbouring communities."

The community’s Chief and Council are “pleased to be working with AECOM and are confident that this project will deliver good outcomes for the community and the region,” according to a release from Marten Falls.

AECOM had US$18.2 billion in global revenues last year, and has a network of 53 offices across Canada. Earlier this year, the company won the contract to design the 2.5 km-long Gordie Howe International Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor.

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