When will tolls come off Cobe­quid Pass?

Bail­lie ac­cuses govern­ment of break­ing pre-elec­tion toll prom­ise

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - BY DAR­RELL COLE CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD SPRINGHILL dcole@amher­st­daily.com Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

PC leader Jamie Bail­lie is ac­cus­ing the pro­vin­cial govern­ment of break­ing an elec­tion prom­ise to re­move tolls on the Cobe­quid Pass.

Bail­lie said Pub­lic Ac­counts doc­u­ments re­leased Thurs­day re­vealed the pro­jected date for the re­moval of the tolls has been moved back to 2026.

“I am sick and tired of the pol­i­tics the Lib­er­als are play­ing with that toll,” Bail­lie said Fri­day. “I raised the is­sue a year ago about the tolls be­ing re­moved in 2019 and they de­nied it and in­sisted it would be 2026. Fi­nally, on the eve of the elec­tion they flip-flopped and said it would be 2019 again. Now we know it was a cyn­i­cal po­lit­i­cal prom­ise be­cause yes­ter­day in the fi­nan­cial state­ments it’s back to 2026.”

The PC leader said page 105 of vol­ume 1 of Pub­lic Ac­counts says toll col­lec­tion will cease upon pay­ment of all costs and li­a­bil­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with the high­way – fore­cast for 2026, seven years later than promised ear­lier this year.

Brian Tay­lor of Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture Re­newal said the in­for­ma­tion Bail­lie is re­fer­ring to has changed since the end of the 2016-17 fis­cal year.

“Govern­ment’s com­mit­ment to re­move the tolls for Nova Sco­tian mo­torists once the bonds are paid off (cur­rently pro­jected for 2019) re­mains un­changed,” Tay­lor said in an email to the Amherst News. “The Pub­lic Ac­counts re­flects the past, what ac­tu­ally hap­pened in 2016-17. The changes with re­spect to the Cobe­quid Pass tolling and High­way 104 Cor­po­ra­tion would be re­flected in fu­ture bud­gets and fis­cal plans.”

Bail­lie still wants Pre­mier Stephen McNeil to come clean with Cum­ber­land County res­i­dents and tell them when tolls will be re­moved from the 45-kilo­me­tre high­way be­tween Thom­son Sta­tion in Cum­ber­land County and Masstown in Colch­ester.

“They de­serve to know the truth about when it will be re­moved,” he said.

By keep­ing tolls on the Cobe­quid Pass, Bail­lie’s coun­ter­part in Cum­ber­land North, El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin, said the McNeil Lib­er­als are dis­crim­i­nat­ing against Cum­ber­land County res­i­dents.

“With the Lib­er­als’ re­cent de­ci­sion to twin high­ways without tolls in other parts of the prov­ince, leav­ing tolls on the Cobe­quid Pass is a slap in the face to Cum­ber­land County res­i­dents,” said Smith-McCrossin, adding the govern­ment shouldn’t wait un­til 2019 to re­move the toll.

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