Thunder Bay

'Really good news': Clean water a reality for 2 northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities

After years of boil water advisories, clean drinking water is a reality for two northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities.

Boil water advisory for Regina Bay lifted in August; treatment plant in Windigo Island nearing completion

A boil water advisory in the northwestern Ontario Indigenous community of Regina Bay was lifted last month following the completion of a new water treatment plant. A second boil water advisory, in Windigo Island, will be lifted in October, after another new treatment plant goes online. (CBC)

After years of boil water advisories, clean drinking water is a reality for two northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities.

A new water treatment plant in Regina Bay went online at the end of August, bringing an end to boil water advisories in the community.

Another water treatment plant is nearing completion in Windigo Island, where the boil water advisory is expected to be lifted in early October.

"It's going to open the door for a lot of things, economically and opportunities," said Linda McVicar, chief of Animakee Wa Zhing #37 First Nation, which includes both Windigo Island and Regina Bay.

"We couldn't even have an ice rink because we didn't have water pressure," she said. "Everybody's happy."

McVicar said the two communities have been on boil water advisories on and off for "many years." The two new treatment plants replace interim solutions that were implemented in 2008.

Relearning drinking-water safety

McVicar said the First Nation will focus on education about the safety of drinking water in the communities.

"You can't get around a generation who's never trusted the water, right?" she said. "They don't even know what it means to turn the tap on, and drink the water and feel confident.

"I think we'll get there with education."

Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation said the plants were completed with support from JR Cousin Consultants, Penn-Co Construction, Colliers Project Leaders, Anishinaabeg of Kabapikotawangag Resource Council and Indigenous Services Canada.

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