When will tolls come off Cobequid Pass?
Baillie accuses government of breaking pre-election toll promise
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.