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Combined Councils of Labrador want north coast road study

Chad Letto, president of the Combined Councils of Labrador, said they want a feasibility study for the road on the north coast of Labrador.
Chad Letto, president of the Combined Councils of Labrador, said they want a feasibility study for the road on the north coast of Labrador. FILE PHOTO

A road to the north coast of Labrador is an idea that has come up time and time again over the years, and with the south coast highway paving almost complete, the Combined Councils of Labrador (CCL) want to see it considered again.

“It was always the plan to look at the north coast when the south was complete, from what the province has communicated to us,” CCL president Chad Letto told SaltWire Network. “So, we’re going to the federal and provincial government for funding for a feasibility study and to build it.”

Currently, there is no road access to northern Labrador, with air and sea being the main ways people and cargo travel in the region.

A formal feasibility study has never been done, but an analysis by Robert Way that was presented at the CCL's annual general meeting in 2018 said a conservative estimate would put the price tag at $800 million to $900 million.

Letto said he knows it would be a large project that would take years, but it would have many economic benefits. He said they want to keep an open mind and know that a road might not be the best ground transportation option for the region, and things like trains might be considered, but either way, they want it to proceed.

“With the south coast road almost complete, it's time to get going on this,” he said. “The ball is rolling. I’m hoping a major project like this could get funded and help the general well-being of the people in the region. It would be a game-changer.”

It could bring many benefits, he said, and make things like power lines up the coast less costly.

Lela Evans, MHA for the Torngat Mountains on the north coast, said a road would be transformative.

“It would change the lives of the people on the coast,” she said. “That’s not an exaggeration, it would impact so much.”

She said it could improve things like food security, transportation, and tourism, just to name a few. A road, or some kind of ground transportation network, would allow for far more competition in the region, which will be better for the people, she said.

“It would help with the cost of a lot of things and make us less at the mercy of only having a couple of suppliers,” she said.

Evans said she’s heard the idea come up over the years and agrees now is the right time to look at it.

While the price tag for such a project will be high, Letto said he is hopeful it can soon begin.

“I never thought I’d see the entire Trans-Labrador highway paved and that’s almost done, so this is possible.”

SaltWire Network contacted the Department of Transportation and Works to get an update on the status of the request from CCL, but did not receive a reply as of press deadline.

Evan Careen is a local journalism initiative reporter covering Labrador for SaltWire Network.

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