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'Liberals making decisions that are easy for government, hard for motorists'
Cumberland South MLA and PC leader Jamie Baillie believes there is enough money to pay off the remaining debt on the Cobequid Pass and remove tolls on the highway.
AMHERST, N.S. – Jamie Baillie is convinced the provincial government is continuing to play political games with tolls on the Cobequid Pass.
The highway runs through the riding of the Cumberland South MLA and PC leader from Thomson Station in Cumberland County to Masstown in Colchester. While happy the highway will be paid off early, he thinks Nova Scotians will pay tolls longer than they have to.
You have to forgive me for being a little cynical that they suddenly announcing they are considering they are paying the debt off early. Cumberland South MLA and PC leader Jamie Baillie
“The snow job is on. The fact is they extended the debt repayment back out to 2026 and we’re all going to be paying more,” Baillie said. “What they told us yesterday is that the McNeil Liberals are making decisions that are easier for the government but harder on the motorists of Cumberland County and I think that’s unfair.”
Although the highway is scheduled to be paid for by 2026 as a result of the 30-year highway agreement governing the 44-kilometre highway, officials from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal were in Amherst on Monday to talk to members of area chambers of commerce and municipal representatives.
Diane Saurette, executive director of finance and strategic capital planning, said with toll revenues being higher than anticipated it’s possible the highway could be paid off and the tolls removed as soon as 2019 or 2020.
Baillie thinks the money is there now to pay off the highway but the government is using the higher revenues to make its bottom line look good.
“You have to forgive me for being a little cynical that they suddenly announcing they are considering they are paying the debt off early,” Baillie said. “I hope it does get paid off early, the money is there to pay it off early and I’ve been calling for them to pay it off early. Yesterday, I thought it was a pretty bad political game and suddenly announce they are considering it.”
When the highway is paid for, Baillie expects the tolls to be removed immediately. He does not believe maintaining the toll to support the province’s budget should be an option.
“They are addicted to the money the highway raises and this should serve as a warning to the eight other places that the Liberals are looking at tolls. They cannot be trusted with our toll money,” he said. “They can’t be allowed to think that once the highways are paid off they can use the toll money for other things.”
Baillie said he’s going to continue watching the government’s progress and suggested Cumberland County residents would never support extending the toll after the Cobequid Pass is paid for.