Cumberland North MLA pressing province on Cobequid Pass tolls
Cumberland North MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin is continuing to press the provincial government on the schedule for removing tolls on the Cobequid Pass.
Smith-McCrossin asked Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines if the province is going to continue charging tolls on commercial vehicles after the tolls are lifted for other vehicles when the 44-km highway connecting Thomson Station in Cumberland County to Glenholme in Colchester is paid for.
“What the minister has continued to say is they’re considering leaving tolls on for commercial traffic, which, in my opinion, is not OK,” SmithMcCrossin said. “When the tolls were put in place in 1996, the agreement said that once the highway debt is paid, the tolls would come off the highway. I believe people should be true to their word and they should honour that. That is what the deal was with the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Cumberland County.”
Smith-McCrossin said businesses in Cumberland County will continue to suffer if the tolls remain, just as they are being disadvantaged now with the increase transportation costs associated with every item they bring in or truck out of the county to the rest of Nova Scotia.
“It’s a tax no one else pays in the province,” she said. “A perfect example is a lobster fisherman, shipping lobster to the airport for export. They’re paying more than that same fisherman in Lunenburg or Cape Breton.”
Smith-McCrossin said the transportation industry has told her it’s an extra $7,400 a year per truck for tolls. A company with three or four trucks on the road could use that money to hire another employee.
The Cumberland North MLA is urging residents and businesses, including chambers of commerce, to make their feelings known to the minister’s office.
“If they don’t hear from anyone opposed to their decision they will leave it as it is,” she said. “If we share our frustration they will make them stop and think. I urge them to contact Lloyd Hines’ office and I urge business to get active because this toll does impact them.”
In the legislature on March 21, the minister said the government is committed to taking tolls off the highway once the debt is paid, something he expects to happen in 12 to 24 months.
He did not comment on which classes of vehicles, if any, would have to continue paying the toll.