2012- The overall objective of Fort St. James and Mackenzie Community Connector project is to upgrade an existing resource road between the two communities to a standard double-lane road that can be safely utilized year-round between Mackenzie and Fort St. James. The upgraded road is anticipated to benefit many sectors and projects including tourism, alternative energy, mining and forestry and therefore contribute to both communities' sustainability.
The upgraded connector road will allow the region to maximize recovery from the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic by providing better access to resources between Fort St. James and Mackenzie, including improved access and safety for the Mt. Milligan Copper/Gold Mine that was planned for development when this project was undertaken (and has since proceeded with construction and is utilizing the improved connector road) .
Improved road access will provide safe, efficient, year round movement of resources, industrial traffic, and general trade and commerce between the two communities. It will also enhance safe access to economic and employment opportunities in the area. This project is a key ingredient to increasing the diversification of both communities and is encouraging collaboration between the communities to strengthen the attractiveness and marketability of the area for tourism and further resource developments.
The feasibility study of the Fort St. James-Mackenzie Connector, which was financially supported by Northern Development, has shown that the highway will be economically beneficial for both communities and the region. It was critical to developing the major infrastructure funding proposal to the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to secure the capital funding that is now making the connector project a reality.
The upgraded connector road was determined to strategically benefit the future development of the Mt. Milligan mining project by Thompson Creek Metals (then Terrane Metals). The gold-copper open pit mining complex site is 96 kilometres west of Mackenzie and 92 kilometres north of Fort St. James. The mine project was estimated to cost $917 million to deliver and had an initial anticipated life of twenty two years. The company predicted the construction work force for the mine in the area would peak at 700 people.