By: The Working Forest Staff
Ontario is improving access to Crown lands by investing in community access and forest roads, allowing for improved forestry management and increased economic opportunities for remote communities.
The forestry industry uses community access and forestry roads for their operations, including harvesting and reforestation on Crown lands. The province, in partnership with forest companies and local operators, carefully plan and maintain a combination of primary and secondary access roads throughout Ontario.
Community access and forestry roads are a vital component of the infrastructure used to access Crown lands. These roads benefit a wide range of communities and groups by providing access to some of the most remote areas of the province, increasing economic opportunity, including:
- Indigenous and local communities
- Mining, utility and railway companies
- Tourism operators
- Hunters, anglers, and trappers
- Campers, cottagers, and the general public.
These roads also act as crucial routes for emergency preparedness, fire response, and evacuation.
Ontario’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and over 65, through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.
- Ontario is providing over $74 million under the Provincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program to improve community access and forest roads.
- In 2005 the government set up theProvincial Forest Access Roads Funding Program as a way for the government to contribute its share of the costs to build and maintain these public access roads in Crown forests.
- Since 2005, Ontario has invested more than $806 million for the construction and maintenance of community access and forest roads in Crown forests.
- Ontario’s forest sector contributes $15.3 billion to the economy and supports an estimated 172,000 direct and indirect jobs in over 260 communities across the province.
- Annually, over 20,000 km of forest access roads on Crown lands are maintained by the funding program. This includes many bridges and other stream crossings that are repaired and replaced annually, thereby reducing environmental and safety concerns.
“These roads provide important forest operations that allow for both strategic harvest and the proactive management of the boreal forest – a defining landscape of Ontario. They also allow improved access to local and Indigenous communities, an important connection that provides opportunities such as tourism, camping, hunting, and fishing. This investment demonstrates our government’s commitment to supporting the forestry industry, vital infrastructure and communities in Ontario,” said Nathalie Des Rosiers, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.