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Highway 17 Upgrading Strengthens Northern Ontario

Archived Backgrounder

Highway 17 Upgrading Strengthens Northern Ontario

Ministry of Transportation

The Governments of Ontario and Canada will jointly upgrade 10 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway starting at the Manitoba border. The project will create over 700 direct and indirect jobs.

Planning is also underway to four-lane an additional 30 kilometres of Highway 17 between the Manitoba-Ontario border and Kenora, Ontario.

Project Details

  • The first phase of construction, announced today, will start in 2010 subject to receiving the required approvals and will cost approximately $100 million. It will expand 10 kilometres of the highway, from two lanes to four lanes, starting at the Manitoba-Ontario border.
  • Planning and detailed design for the 40-kilometres of widening has been awarded to a consultant and will take approximately 18 months to complete.

Project Significance

  • Highway 17 between the Manitoba-Ontario border and Kenora is a strategic link in the Trans-Canada Highway system:  
  • There are no alternate routes between Kenora and the Manitoba-Ontario border for Trans-Canada traffic.
  • Trans-continental, regional and local traffic rely on this section of highway to bring goods and trade to the region and nation.
  • The highway also provides access to many tourist and recreational areas for both Manitoba and Ontario residents and significantly increases in traffic volumes during the summer months, particularly during long weekends. 


  • The majority of the Trans-Canada Highway in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is four-laned.
  • The Kenora to Manitoba project is located near the eastern terminus of the existing four-lane highway system.  
  • Manitoba intends to proceed with planning for the four-laning of the final 14 km west of the Ontario border.

Project History

  • The February 2008 Rosehart Report recommended that detailed planning commence immediately for the four-laning of strategic sections of the Trans-Canada Highway in Northwestern Ontario.
  • On July 24, 2008, the provincial government announced a $546 million investment in northern highways for 2008-09, including route planning studies for future four-laning of several sections of Highway 17
  • As a result of the July 2008 announcements, two major planning studies were commissioned: Kakabeka Falls to Shabaqua (40 kilometres) and Kenora to Manitoba (40 kilometres).
  • On January 27, 2009, the 2009 Federal Budget committed to work with the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba to cost-share the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway as well as targeted twinning improvements to a number of segments of Highways 11 and 17 in Northern Ontario.
  • In March 2009, the provincial government announced a $648 million investment in northern highways for 2009-10.
  • Funding for these projects would come from existing provincial allocations and under the Building Canada plan.



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