More Attawapiskat homes en route over ice road
A convoy carrying two more modular homes for the people of Attawapiskat is on its way to the native community facing a housing crisis.
The flatbed trucks left earlier Tuesday from Moosonee, Ont., on their 300-kilometre trip along the ice road.
The shipment of much-needed housing is a promise from Ottawa the people of the troubled Ontario First Nations community have been waiting to see fulfilled for some time, reported the CBC's Megan Thomas, who was travelling with the convoy.
The federal government promised the new homes after the community declared a state of emergency last fall.
However, the convoy was delayed for an hour on Tuesday, after one of the trucks had mechanical problems.
The convoy stopped about an hour past Moosonee, Thomas reported.
"A mechanic had to come up from Moosonee, but he was able to get the truck back on the road," said Thomas. "So we are moving again up towards Attawapiskat."
Wally Turner, operations manager for the ice road, said five units have made it to Attawapiskat so far.
"The road is good for them," he told CBC News. "The drivers are taking their time, being really cautious."
Unclear when lots will be ready
The transport is part of a fleet of trucks that moves cargo north across a road crafted from ice and snow. The ice road season is a lifeline for moving fuel and supplies to Ontario's far north.
Each trip takes about eight hours to cover the 300 kilometres north to Attawapiskat. The drivers then have to make a return trip before a fresh crew can load up the next set of houses.
Before the ice road season ends, a total of 22 homes have to be transported. Turner believes they will all make it before the spring melt.
"We normally run, in a good year, right until the end of March," he said. "But again, Mother Nature has her own way of doing things here, and that's pretty well our boss. She dictates what goes on on our road."
At Attawapiskat, work is underway to prepare lots for the 22 new homes, Thomas reported. It's not clear how long it will be before people can move in, however.
The homes were built in Fredericton by Maple Leaf Homes, a company that specializes in cold climate construction. In the past, the company has built homes for mining camps in Northern Canada.