Effects of Climate Change on Access to Northern Communities and Transportation

As the climate changes, shorter and potentially milder winter seasons are predicted in different regions of the country. Changes in winter seasons will have an adverse effect on the construction of winter roads that some Indigenous communities rely on for the transportation of goods and services.

Many isolated Indigenous communities are reliant on consistent seasonal and winter road access to transportation of goods and services to and from their communities. In comparison to the ability of non-Indigenous communities to access goods and services, climate changes could increase the transportation challenges already faced by Indigenous communities. The increased cost of transporting these goods and services directly increases the cost of living and decreases the quality of health and life in isolated communities. Standard adaptation strategies to address climate change impacts that might be adequate to address non-Indigenous issues will not be adequate in Indigenous communities because of the unique adversity of the impacts.

If winter roads are increasingly not an option, alternative methods of transportation, such as transport by air will be required, which is an expensive option for most Indigenous communities. Changes in transportation methods will put greater stresses on already challenged economic and financial realities faced by many of these communities. The cost of necessities such as food and supplies will increase dramatically, and areas of need, such as housing development may also suffer. This is turn creates fiscal challenges for the Indigenous communities concerned, limiting their opportunities for economic development and imposes an additional burden on federal resources