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Reduce highway speed: Chief Collins

Chief Peter Collins is asking the province to slow traffic on Highway 61 as the city's legal battle with CN Rail continues over the future of the James Street Swing Bridge.
Peter Collins
Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins is calling for reduced speeds on Highway 61 in the wake of a fatal vehicle collision involving a member of his community.

THUNDER BAY -- The Chief of Fort William First Nation is calling for reduced speeds on Highway 61 in the wake of a fatal vehicle collision on Friday.

Chief Peter Collins' said he has contacted Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro, requesting changes to speed limits on the highway stretch in the vacinity of the Chippewa Road turnoff to the First Nation.   

As Collins called for greater safety precautions, he conveyed his community's prayers to the family of 45-year-old community member Rachel Legarde, who died in the incident as well as her daughter who was injured. 

"I think there's some work we need to do to get the traffic slowed down in that section of the highway," Collins said. 

"Maybe we can get some kind of speed reduced in the interim but I'm not 100 per cent sure what the (Ministry of Transportation) is going to do on that front."

Collins argued the Legardes wouldn't have had to travel the highway route if Thunder Bay and Canadian National Railway had been able to reach a resolution regarding the fate of the James Street Swing Bridge, the connecting point between the First Nation and the Westfort neighbourhood, which was badly damaged in an October 2013 fire.

A lawsuit the city filed against CN in February 2015 over which party is responsible to repair the 112-year-old bridge has yet to be resolved. Collins called for both sides to work toward a solution as he pointed out members of his community are the ones paying the price of indecision.     

"I don't know if anyone takes it seriously enough," he said.

"We've been pushing CN and the city to come to a solution in this issue. At the end of the day, we're the victims in this issue as we were the victims in 1905."

Mauro was not immediately available for comment.