Attawapiskat homes inch across northern Ontario

The first modular homes destined for Attawapiskat on the James Bay west coast have made it about half way.

Those responsible for delivering the homes are hopeful the ice road will be in good condition

Modular homes destined for Attawapiskat are making their way across northern Ontario, by road and rail, to the beleaguered community. (Frederic Pepin/Radio-Canada)

The first modular homes destined for Attawapiskat on James Bay’s west coast have made it about half way.

The four homes arrived in Cochrane in northern Ontario in the late afternoon Thursday. The four homes — which are part of an order for 22 — were shipped by truck from a manufacturing plant in Fredericton, N.B.

The logistical challenge of getting the homes to their destination is great, said Serge Larivière, director of operations with Transport Champion.

He said high winds on Tuesday delayed the homes’ transportation.

"We had problems because of the large canvas [which protects the units] … Today we had freezing rain and [in] Val d'Or [there] was a little snow," he said.

Ice road trek to come

This part of the journey is considered to be the simplest. From Cochrane, the modular homes will be sent by train to Moosonee, and then by ice road to Attawapiskat. This will only be done if the temperatures are favourable, otherwise the ice road will be impassable.

Clarence Boudreau, a spokesperson with EHL Homes, the Ontario distributor of the company that makes the houses, said the trek on the ice road could begin Feb. 7, 2012.

"As soon as the ice road is ready for us — we hope it's Feb. 7 or earlier — we'll be hauling … about five [houses] a week," Boudreau said.

The Canadian government has purchased 22 homes at a cost of 100,000 dollars each for Attawapiskat, which in October declared a state of emergency with respect to its housing conditions.

With files from Frederic Pepin, Radio-Canada