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First Nation, construction firm form partnership: Nipissing First Nation and Miller Paving to rebuild historical bridge.

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 on March 29 the province will spend $12 million to replace the Duchesnay Creek Bridge, located along Highway 17B in North Bay.

The two-year project marks the beginning of a unique partnership between Miller Paving and Nipissing First Nation, which will work together to rehabilitate the bridge.

"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 Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod.

The bridge project is a culmination of a joint training initiative, established in 2018 between Nipissing First Nation and Miller Paving, which helped seven community members gain on-the-job training, with opportunities for full-time employment and further training.

"This bridge is immediately adjacent to our territory and we are pleased to be part of the local economy," McLeod said. "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," he added.

"This means real opportunities for our people--not just platitudes and promises."

Expected to take at least two years, the project will also involve the creation of a new entrance into Duchesnay Village.

The bridge was closed in late January after safety concerns arose relating to its age and deteriorating condition. But that decision further restricted Duchesnay residents' movement in and out of the community.

"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.

Fedeli said the project has some historical significance, as the Duchesnay Creek Bridge is the last timber trestle span in existence in Ontario.

"This is a really unique bridge.... It was built in 1937, so it is 82 years old," said Fedeli. "It is a timber bridge and the last timber bridge remaining in Ontario."

"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."

Nipissing First Nation territory is located near North Bay, along the shores of Lake Nipissing.

The original version of this story appeared on BayToday.ca.

CHRIS DAWSON For Northern Ontario Business

Caption: Marking a new infrastructure project on March 29 were (from left) Nipissing First Nation Coun. Mike Sawyer, Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, and Nipissing First Nation Coun. Brian Couchie.

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Author:Dawson, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:May 1, 2019
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