December 2011

December 23,2011

Building big highways a big mistake --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Strathgartney Park will be preserved from highway development – that's good news. Indeed, the park should be expanded.

But while it’s great that so many of us spoke up successfully against ruining it, the newly-stated intention of the P.E.I. government to build a new section of highway in the Bonshaw-New Haven area is still a flagrant waste of our province’s finances.

There remain many critical questions about the wisdom of spending $8 million on another highway mega-project.

Where will the money come from to maintain the smaller roads and byways of our Island?

What additional spending cuts will be made in other departments?

Should we be paving and destroying farmland and forests?

Just because the federal government wants to give funding, should we base our economy on these types of expensive projects and import-export trucking, instead of supporting local production of Islanders’ basic needs?

When will we start getting off the fossil fuel addiction that’s burning away our natural world?

Safety on this section of the Trans-Canada could be improved with a fraction of the cost and destruction.

In fact, the proposed project ignores the safety problems of high speed traffic in Bonshaw and New Haven.

This is another in a long history of gifts to large construction companies, and another blow to our feeble attempts to be the ‘green’ province.

Strathgartney Park may soon be the only undeveloped green space in the area.

It reminds me of the lonely big beautiful tree in the middle of the clear-cut near our home: a small oasis amid the destruction.

We can do better! I hope our government will reconsider the long-term impact of this project.

Tony Reddin, Bonshaw

December 14, 2011

We need modern roads — and places like Strathgartney --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Re-routing the highway through Strathgartney angers people because parks and protected natural areas are not supposed to be available for other uses and the government assigns no value to their loss.

The primary goal of the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor Strategy is commerce, not safety. If the name doesn't convince you, look at Transport Canada's criteria for the program. Most are about moving trucks faster and only one mentions safety. A proposal that was "all about safety" would not be funded.

Between them, Strathgartney Park and Strathgartney Homestead are a provincial park, a protected natural area, a national historic site, home to several rare species, a remnant of beech forest and a gift in perpetuity from the father of the provincial park system, Robert Cotton. None of these aspects are reflected in the budget for the project, but they should each find a place in the cost column.

The suggested route through the park will slightly increase safety and fuel economy while shaving off less than a minute of travel. If this is reason enough to degrade Strathgartney, then none of the parks and natural areas on the Island are truly protected. Everything is just being held until such time as the right deal comes along.

Nothing guarantees we can exploit natural areas the way we might like to without destroying them. If we don't recognize this and act accordingly, then we will lose them. Diverting development away from natural areas may seem like an expense now, but really it's an investment in natural infrastructure that our children will thank us for.

We need both modern roads and places like Strathgartney. If the transportation department can't see a way to accomplish this right now, why not move down their list to the next bottleneck in the road? Modernizing the Charlottetown to Borden trade corridor is a long-term project with multiple steps. Fixing the fourth worst place on the highway will still give people work, save fuel and time and make the route a little bit safer.

Rob MacLean, Lewes

December 2, 2012

Highway redesign poor use of funds --The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It is heartening to see that there is widespread public opposition to the proposed highway realignments which would gut Strathgartney Park, bypass the town of Crapaud and waste millions of dollars which could be better spent on any number of badly needed infrastructure projects.

The proposed invasion of Strathgartney is particularly disturbing. I am at a loss to understand how such an idea made it as far as a formal proposal. The specious claim made by the planners that a highway through the middle of the park would ‘affect' only a miniscule percentage of parkland is misleading. The fact is that the proposed route would ram a wide, noisy, smelly, hazardous wedge through the heart of what is now a peaceful and ecologically important, publicly owned natural reserve, one of the few readily available in the Charlottetown area.

Spending millions of dollars on the proposed realignments is simply not an effective use of public resources at a time when money is badly needed for more worthy infrastructure projects such as improved waste treatment facilities across P.E.I.

In considering how to improve traffic management on these older, curving roadways, there are more cost-effective measures available, starting with enforcement of posted speed limits. Drivers who are speeding, driving well above the posted limit will do so on a newly aligned ‘modern' highway as readily as they do at present. Improved law enforcement and the surrender of a few minutes of travel time will save taxpayers lots of

money, prevent the gutting of a treasured provincial park and safeguard farmland and domestic properties along the proposed realignment route.

Doug Millington, Charlottetown