December's cold weather has been a nuisance to many but it's a welcome relief for residents of two remote northern communities.
The 2,000 residents of La Loche, Sask., can now make the two-hour commute to Fort McMurray, Alta., to ship supplies and visit friends since the La Loche winter trail connecting the two communities opened Saturday morning.
Officials were earlier worried that the ice road, which spans the Christina River to the Saskatchewan border and is a time- and money-saver for commuters, would not be opened at all.
"We need cold weather for winter roads to work, so for a long time when the weather was really warm, it was becoming a concern that we might not be able to open the La Loche winter road and the Fort [Chipewyan] winter road," said Alexandra Collins, spokesperson for the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo.
"Now that the weather is co-operating, we're getting good cold weather [and] we're able to maintain the roads and get them drivable, so it's really great."
Collins warns that motorists should use four-wheel drive vehicles when travelling on the ice road because of bumps on it.
Drivers are also asked to be especially careful, as there is no road patrol and cellphone coverage is spotty.