Atlantic transport ministers “dead opposed” to tolls

FREDERICTON (Sept. 24, 1999) — Transportation ministers from the four Atlantic provinces have agreed to fight any national infrastructure investment program that would include tolls.

The ministers convened earlier this week in advance of Canada-wide meetings with transport ministers in Saint John next week.

“We are dead opposed to the tolls,” said Newfoundland Transport Minister Rick Woodford. “There’s a possibility the federal government may bring in a national toll policy. We want to make sure they do bring one in, but we’ve got to look at the tolls that are already there, not tolls that may be put there in the future. The ones that are there now are hurting us and we want them eliminated as soon as possible.’

The Atlantic region has two toll roads: one in New Brunswick and one in Nova Scotia.

Speaking at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada annual meeting last week, federal Transport Minister David Collenetter said some form of private-public partnership will be needed in order to pay the enormous cost to rebuild Canada’s highways. Such arrangements would likely mean more toll roads, he said.

The cost to upgrade Canada’s 25,000-kilometre National Highway System has been estimated at $17.4 billion.

“I am personally in favor of more federal-government spending, in co-operation with the provinces, on highway improvement,” Collenette said, “but this is an uphill battle in Cabinet.”

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