Quality of life in northern communities is often low while valuable natural resources are often vast. Both of these characteristics of remote locations can be positively impacted by a corridor coming within proximity. As such, the study set out to determine the location for a corridor to connect the Ring of Fire deposits to Pickle Lake. The purpose of the corridor is to allow for the natural resources to reach a global market (Jennish, 2012) while also providing access to northern communities, therefore improving quality of life (Danika, 2016). A MCE incorporating relevant variables was used to create a cost surface based on environmental, social, and economic viewpoints. The cost surfaces for each viewpoint then had a LCP run to find the three corridors.
The variables incorporated into the analysis were split into these 3 viewpoints. The environmental variables included a forest and wetlands layer used for proximity analysis, as a going through them would be harmful (Laurence et al. 2014). Additionally, streams and lakes were incorporated with stream crossings being limited and development over lakes being defined as impossible. The economic variables included in this analysis were slope and mineral claims with slope being incorporated through gradients having different economic impacts (Burroughs et al. 1976), while the mineral claims layer was a proximity feature. Social factors included towns and First Nations reserves incorporated as proximity variables as well. Having a corridor pass through towns while coming near First Nations reserves will increase the quality of life for these locations (Danika, 2016). First Nations reserve land crossing was reduced because of land right claims along with loss of culture (Place and Hanlon, 2009). This resulted in locations that were intermediate in distance away from First Nations reserves to have more suitable scores.
Altogether these factors were input into a GIS and a MCE was run followed by a LCP. This gave 3 corridors, one for each viewpoint, where the variables were weighted differently for each. The environmental and economic followed very similar path, with distances of 302 and 305 km respectively. The extra distance for the economic corridor was attributed to the corridor to veering north at the end of the corridor to service a First Nation reserve. The social corridor was the longest with a distance of 467 km as the corridor directly serviced three remote communities. The implications of these results are vast. The analysis run here shows that the most impactful of the variables were habitat and wetlands. This is because of their vast extent meaning even with their low weight in the non-environmental viewpoints, they influenced the siting greatly. The model presented here could also be extrapolated to other remote regions with similar biomes with good success.
Moving forward, research can be completed by incorporating more variables. An example of this would be to differentiate based on type of wetland or habitat to identify those that pose a higher risk of being disturbed. Additionally, further research could be completed in assigning a price to the development of this corridor. The price of the corridor to cross cells would differ from those used in the MCE. This would further identify the viability of the corridor path that is being proposed.