Cum­ber­land North MLA press­ing prov­ince on Cobe­quid Pass tolls

The Amherst News - - COVER STORY -

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.

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