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Premier to open permanent road to Bloodvein today

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Manitoba’s premier is leading a delegation on a flight north to Bloodvein Friday, to open a road that will link the fly-in First Nation to its first permanent road south.

At the same time the province will announce it's loosening the purse strings on $15 million for contracts to push the road work further over the next five years.

Premier Greg Selinger is flying into the community, 210 kilometres north of Winnipeg, with Ontario MP Greg Rickford, Parliamentary Secretary to Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, for the announcement. The day trip also includes Eric Robinson, minister of aboriginal and northern affairs, and Ernie Gilroy, CEO of East Side Road Authority.

Bloodvein First Nation Chief Roland Hamilton will meet the delegation for the ribbon cutting. Once the provincial road network reaches Bloodvein, the new road will link the Ojibwa community to the south,

"The east side road network represents a unprecedented investment in this region that is creating jobs and training projects for east side residents," Premier Greg Selinger said in a provincial announcement Friday.

A year ago, Ottawa anted up $2.67 million, a drop in the bucket, but the first federal contribution for the massive construction project.

That money, along with contributions from Bloodvein and the province, paid for the road link that's the focus of the trip Friday, the premier said.

It will take years and billions to cut a gravel highway through 1,000 kilometres of wilderness and create the first permanent land link to the north and east sides of Lake Winnipeg.

Without federal help, it could take even longer.

"We thank the federal government for partnering with us on this important project and look forward to working with them to continue building access roads to link more east side communities," Robinson said in the announcement.

Friday’s announcement is part of the $1.2 billion the province has committed at a rate of $75 million a year over the next 15 years.

That Bloodvein portion was set aside a year ago but the province will hand over the first instalment, now that the work on the first stretch of road is done.

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