SUDBURY -- The Ontario government has announced plans to complete paving and other work along a 20-kilometre stretch of Highway 17B in Garden River First Nation.

In a news release Friday, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, and Chief Andy Rickard, Garden River First Nation, announced the contract for the work has been awarded to KSMM 2020 through the province's Aboriginal Procurement Program.

KSMM 2020 is a partnership between Garden River First Nation, Shwe Miikaan Corporation and Miller Paving Ltd.

“This project has been a dream for our community for quite some time and to be involved in the planning from start to finish is what we define as meaningful relationships with the Ontario government,” said Rickard said.

“We look forward to this amazing opportunity to build a pool of skilled members, enhance our capacity, ensure economic benefits and add more safety measures within our community.”

“Ontario is working with Indigenous communities to improve transportation in northern Ontario,” said Mulroney said in the release.

'A win for all involved'

“Highway 17B travels through parts of Garden River First Nation, which makes this a win for all involved by supporting local jobs while improving and maintaining this important highway.”

The project includes 20 kilometres of paving work on Highway 17B and intersection improvements at Syrette Lake Road.

"Fully paved shoulders for cyclists and pedestrians, a curb, right and left turn lanes and new lighting will be added," the release said. Culvert, gutter and guiderail work will also be done.

“This partnership between Garden River First Nation, Shwe Miikaan Corporation and Miller Paving will help ensure that Highway 17B remains a reliable option for residents of Garden River First Nation,” Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, said in the release. “This initiative supports local jobs and brings economic benefit to Garden River First Nation.”

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2021 and be completed in fall 2022. The contract requires that one-third of the contract value must be done by Indigenous businesses or members.