April 2012


  1. 1 April 27, 2012
    1. 1.1 A Highway Sales Tax? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 1.2 Realizing the travesty of plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  2. 2 April 27, 2012
    1. 2.1 Political Panel comment on the 'Trans Canada highway debate' -- CBC Radio Island Morning
    2. 2.2 Trans-Canada reroute protested at Province House-- CBC Website
  3. 3 April 26, 2012
    1. 3.1 Commentary on the Rally to stop Plan B -- CBC website
    2. 3.2 Plan B and the safety issue -- Maritime Noon CBC radio program
  4. 4 April 25, 2012
    1. 4.1 Drastic measures need not be taken -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  5. 5 April 20, 2012
    1. 5.1 Plan B: is there a middle ground? -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian
    2. 5.2 Opposition is heartening -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  6. 6 April 18, 2012
    1. 6.1 Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 6.2 An evocative look to the future -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  7. 7 April 16, 2012
    1. 7.1 Not my idea of a 'road to Hell' -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 7.2 If you're concerned, tell your MLA -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  8. 8 April 13, 2012
    1. 8.1 Good government means just that -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 8.2 Improve the highway, don't replace it -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  9. 9 April 11, 2012
    1. 9.1 Captivated by P.E.I.'s landscape -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 9.2 Come the election, we'll remember -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  10. 10 April 10, 2012
    1. 10.1 Group rallies opposition to highway rerouting project -- The Guardian article
  11. 11 April 9, 2012
    1. 11.1 More protests coming for P.E.I. Trans-Canada reroute -- CBC Website
  12. 12 April 4th, 2012
    1. 12.1 Liberal double standard on job cuts -- Commentary online in The Eastern Graphic 
  13. 13 April 4, 2012
    1. 13.1 Crane predicts spring session will be 'tough' on government -- The Guardian article online
    2. 13.2 Government to plow ahead, paving over the voice of the taxpaying public  -- Commentary online in The Eastern Graphic
  14. 14 April 3, 2012
    1. 14.1 A wrong decision, not a difficult one -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 14.2 Roundabout a better idea -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    3. 14.3 Most oppose the highway plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
  15. 15 April 2, 2012
    1. 15.1 Lower price tag and a safer road -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor
    2. 15.2 Wrong group to push around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

April 27, 2012

A Highway Sales Tax? -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

For better or for worse, our provincial government has decided to adopt the HST, harmonized sales tax. I wonder if we need to bring in a second HST - the Highway Sales Tax.

Let's call it the HST-2. This would be a tax, on every Islander, to pay for the new plan B highway in Bonshaw, which we do not need. The HST-2 could be added on to our property tax bills to be paid in convenient installments each year. One gentleman I spoke to, who had done some math on the project cost, had estimated $250 for each and every

Islander. So $500 per couple, $1,000 for a family of four.

Why the new Highway Sales Tax you say? Well, why not make the cost of the new five-kilometre highway transparent, rather than just adding it to the already-bulging provincial debt to accumulate interest for our children and grandchildren to pay for years to come?

Now, if this project was something credible, we could probably all justify spending the $12 million or $15 million or $20 million (We will never know the true cost). But if it's to patronize a few party supporters, and destroy a beautiful part of our environment, building another section of road parallel to the present one (which could be made perfectly safe by making some basic alterations), I personally think it's time for Islanders to stand up and be counted in numbers big enough to say ‘no' to this plan B folly.

Leigh Farrar, Appin Road

Realizing the travesty of plan B -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

From tip to tip Islanders appreciate the esthetic appeal of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Bonshaw-Strathgartney area. Many visitors return, impelled by the relaxing beauty of the scenic drive east or west along this stretch of the Trans-Canada. The unique combination of varying shades of bright greens in the spring and the brilliance of colourful autumn leaves contrast strikingly with the redness of the soil.

Tourism, with farming, the fishery - the resource industries upon which the economy largely depends - and restaurants, lodges, and business in general benefit from the influx of people from the Canadian mainland, the U.S, and worldwide.

All our government's industrial decisions appear to result from heavy lobbying by those seeking personal short-term gain. If plan B is allowed to go ahead - note the word ‘allowed' - the loss of a jewel, as described many times by concerned contributors to the letters to the editor section, the destruction of old-growth trees, habitat for birds, fish, and small animals will be the legacy that will taint this Liberal government, a la Harper, forever.

A government that assumes a dictatorial stance toward those "of, for, and by" whom the government members are chosen surely is seriously abusing powers not acceded them in their election.

Encumbered by a heavy debt and serious deficit, how absurd is it to use a Trans-Canada federal grant of $8 million that requires our province's input estimated to be up to $26 million extra debt thrust on Islanders for expensive acquisitions affecting century-old farmsteads with associated construction costs of a new highway.

Alternatively, as outlined in the excellent piece by Art Ortenburger in the April 20 Guardian, suggested changes to the present proposed segment of the Trans-Canada Highway would dispense with exorbitant increases to the deficit by employing methods that should accomplish the desired outcome for all.

What is needed is for Islanders provincewide to realize the enormity of the travesty of plan B, gird themselves to the sticking point of courage to act appropriately but forcefully to prevent its implementation.

Anna Fraser, Charlottetown

April 27, 2012

Political Panel comment on the 'Trans Canada highway debate' -- CBC Radio Island Morning

The Political Panel of Paul MacNeill, Nancy Key, and Scott MacKenzie discuss Highway Plan B and the Rally


Trans-Canada reroute protested at Province House-- CBC Website

Coverage of the April 26 Rally to Stop Highway Plan B


April 26, 2012

Commentary on the Rally to stop Plan B -- CBC website

by Peter Haxen

I call on the Premier and all MLAs to respect all the people that are working to save our precious Island and our landscape, those, and all those that came out on a Thursday afternoon to save our beautiful island, as well as our hard-earned taxmoney.. None of these people have anything to gain personally here -- they care deeply for the Island. I think it speaks for itself when groups such as Island Nature Trust, Islands Studies and others came out to ask government to re-consider this. It was a pleasure to hear so many very good thoughtful speeches. In particular Lynn Douglas and Olive Crane made me proud.

Unfortunately we must be fighting a phantom -- because it is not normal for decision makers to dig in their heels like this and be unreasonable like this. There is a ghost or phantom lurking out there that scares the Premier and liberal MLAs to the point of distraction. But who or what is it?? The Premier and MLAs are fond of saying that democracy is at work, -- well it saws both ways, democracy is not working if there is not a desire on both parts to reach a reasonable compromise and solution. So far the Government has not shown any inclination to even establish a dialog, - one that is supposed to take place - before such a monumental project begins.

Plan B and the safety issue -- Maritime Noon CBC radio program

Norma Lee MacLeod interviews Terry Pratt about Plan B in relation to the safety issue.


April 25, 2012

Drastic measures need not be taken -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

As the so-called ‘plan B' for diversion of the Trans-Canada Highway is such a hot topic, I decided to visit the proposed site. This past Sunday - ‘Earth Day' as it happened - I took a tour of the affected area. I didn't have a clear conception of what was involved prior to this. One likely reason is that most of the diversion is well to the north of the existing highway. In other words, and conveniently for the proponents, ‘out of sight, out of mind'. But what I saw and learned on this occasion amazed and shocked me.

This route, marked out by surveyors, slashes its way through roughly 5.5 kilometres of privately owned field and forest and across at least two very deep ravines in the picturesque hills of Bonshaw. The first ravine I saw has a lovely stream running though it. As I learned, a large culvert will be installed in the stream and tons of fill placed over it to a height of approximately 100 feet. In fact, all such ravines in the surveyed area will be filled in to that level where the new highway crosses over them.

While I have no expertise on such matters, it doesn't take an engineer or scientist to see that this project will have major environmental impacts. The main reason given by the P.E.I. government for this project is to make the TCH safer for motorists by eliminating the curves in that part of the highway. But the TCH has other what some might call dangerous curves. As has already been noted by one observer, curves should actually serve to slow down traffic. The straighter and wider the road, the faster motorists will drive, which does not necessarily equate in fewer accidents.

I have driven over that section of the TCH for many years and it never occurred to me that it was particularly dangerous. That is, if you follow the speed limit and drive according to weather conditions, which many motorists do not. Hence, accidents happen. No, in my opinion, drastic measures such as ‘plan B' need not be taken. Other commentators have already made what seem like perfectly valid suggestions for practical, non-invasive and far less costly solutions.

David MacCallum, Charlottetown

April 20, 2012

Plan B: is there a middle ground? -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

By Art Ortenburger

It is now three months since the planned diversion of the Trans-Canada Highway around New Haven and Bonshaw was announced, and at the time and until as recently as the end of March, it was still being described by Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal officials as a "done deal." Since that day, an emphatic and even furious public response has changed the dynamic, and the done deal shows every sign of being just ‘done,' period.

To anyone who was able to squeeze into the packed room of the public information session at the Kingston Legion on March 28, it was obvious that a great deal of competent engineering went into the design of the new route. Unfortunately, there was an embarrassing moment when it became clear that none of the half-dozen department staff present had followed their own surveyors to see what they were proposing to the local residents, who knew exactly what was at stake.

If the loss of family farms and old-growth woodlands were the only casualties of Plan B, it might still be a near thing, with the irresistible carrot of $8 million federal dollars dangled before our government. But we know those dollars are accompanied by a requirement for the new road to be built to engineering standards not always suitable outside of Ontario. In terms of our provincial debt, the string attached to these funds has turned out to be something on the order of a substantial rope.

The math is simple enough: add provincial matching funds, land acquisition costs, the rock-solid certainty of cost over-runs, and the long-term interest that will accrue over many years, and our share is no longer $8 million. Plan B will ring up no less than $26 million on to the current provincial debt. Oh my. Exit Plan B.

But wait: one of the original reasons for the project was to increase safety while traveling through this particular stretch of highway. Can we not still accomplish this worthwhile goal, if in a less grandiose way?

When a contentious subject brings out strong feelings, as Plan B clearly does, then the debate tends to polarize. Why does all the recent discussion of this project, on both sides, assume that the choice is either Plan B or nothing? Isn't there a place in-between? I don't mean to suggest that the highway engineers can take the new road half-way and leave it to end at the edge of a stream. But there is no lack of data to inform us of the other choices when we wish for safer roadways.

Others have made suggestions in this vein, and perhaps we can just list them in order of efficacy and cost. Except you can't, because cost and benefit are inversely related in this particular list. All the information available from many countries and Canadian sources on this subject is clear on one thing: the most important intervention in road safety is not the road, not the vehicles, not even the speed limits. It's us. Drivers. The people whose errors of judgment cause 57 per cent of all accidents. We should be grateful for this because the least expensive measures available to us will probably produce the best results.

Here is the list as I see it, and I know it is incomplete and that others deserve credit for contributing to it, both in these pages and elsewhere. The ideas are in order of increasing cost and decreasing effectiveness (any errors are mine):

1) Step up efforts of driver education to reduce drunk and distracted driving, and increase seatbelt usage. While this lacks the glamour of a new road, it is always the most effective intervention to save lives.

2) Improve the signage on this road section, add median rumble strips, enforce speed limits, and extend the reflective lane dividers.

3) Major construction to reduce the grade in Churchill, ‘shave' the turns to make them a bit straighter, and bank the turns appropriate to the direction of travel. Experience has shown that an earlier (historical) concern that a deeper road cut would just fill up with snow does not occur.

4) Construct turning lanes on to the St. Catherine's, Bonshaw, and Green roads, which will require widening the bridge over the West River.

My point is this: we owe the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal a debt of gratitude for starting the debate on a small problem in our share of the national highway. It would be a shame to lose the momentum and miss this opportunity to make needed improvements. The federal Gateway dollars may or may not be applicable to the alternatives listed above. No matter: this is an Island problem and needs an Island solution. We need to focus on what our purpose is, and how best to achieve it. Can we move on to Plan C now?

Art Ortenburger of Bonshaw works in Charlottetown and drives this stretch of the Trans-Canada every day. He has an interest in ecosystem diversity and interpretation of statistics.

Opposition is heartening -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

It is heartening to read the voices raised in opposition to the proposed plan B for the Trans-Canada highway, the wanton destruction of virgin territory, for the sake of a few minutes of saved driving time. A recent letter to the editor regarding the welfare of wildlife also prompts me to write.

Is it not an offence under the law to do damage to the environment? Perhaps an injunction or class action lawsuit brought by concerned Islanders on behalf of the citizens of this (supposedly) gentle isle would slow this government body down.

It is appallingly easy to be thoughtless about other species, causing chaos, damage, destruction and, yes, death and injury, and it takes a lot of effort but little brain power. To be benign, gentle, thoughtful, creative and caring takes only a kind heart and imagination and it's a lot less expensive too. Either course also reflects on us as humans.

Regarding the recent letter on wildlife, death and injury to wildlife on these roads is alarming and government's proposal of a swath of unneeded highway through centuries-old wildlife habitat will only serve to increase that rate. Have the engineers and government officials given thought to that aspect? Animals simply go from A to B on established routes. The above plans, should they become a reality, will only promote and perpetuate unnecessary carnage. My proposal, if this folly proceeds, would be this. Provide, at recommended spacing, dry culverts of varying sizes, for animals small and large to use. This has been done in other jurisdictions. It's not difficult or expensive. This is simply a moral duty, required of us as humans with the understanding and ability.

My last point is this. Where is the voice of our invisible environment minister on this subject? Perhaps that person or someone from government would care to respond and my question would be this. Would you rather be thought of as destructive and non-caring deliverers of chaos, death and injury or as kind, caring, considerate and compassionate? This is, after all, the "gentle island". If we can't take these minimal steps to help each other and the fellow creatures that share this world with us, then I would suggest all hope is lost.

Allan M. Booth, South Milton

April 18, 2012

Bypass road plans wasteful all around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The P.E.I. government, with taxpayers' money, has in the past designed, built, inspected, and accepted, among others, the portion of highway between New Haven and Bonshaw, through one of the most forested parts on the Island.

This project created infrastructure for Trans-Canada Highway traffic as well as lucrative work opportunity for the selected construction industry. Now the same government declares its commissioned road unsafe, based on one fatal accident, in order to justify duplicate road construction through more of the pristine lands.

The existing road contains gentle hills with gentle curves and appears in acceptable unfailed condition. To make such road responsible for traffic accidents is false argumentation, unworthy of being used as justification. If road and vehicle have not failed, then traffic safety always depends on all drivers' ability to correctly read road conditions, to be alert and undistracted for making good judgments and to operate their vehicle in a courteous and safe manner. In these times of restraint there is no need to spend some $16 million for a section of bypass road. If the government wants to improve on its design, shave off some hills and cut some corners, one lane at a time.

The government's unsophisticated plans require the destruction of pristine natural lands in the area. Well-managed woodlands, some of them rare hemlock and white pines, estimated to be 300 years old. Steep slopes with vegetation now hold the water and balance the watershed. Wide ravines with sizable creeks are destined to be filled in. Despite the strong objection by the concerned public, and likely pressured by a hungry construction industry, the government is arrogantly and stubbornly determined to ram this project through, without a thorough and detailed environmental impact assessment.

Consideration for economic gain must not simultaneously destroy environmental value. We all have to learn to become ecologically literate. The environment must be seen as a most valuable asset with an extremely high cost, and that cost must become part of the monetary equation.

Karl (Carlo) Hengst, Summerside

An evocative look to the future -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Re Plan B to re-route the Trans-Canada Highway: It is sometimes said that even paradise is fraught with serpents. I lived on Prince Edward Island for many years, learned to love its quirks and warmed to the magnificent remnants of the landscape that once was.

Another CFA once said to me when we were talking about our adopted home that it was "paradise with serpents." That phrase resonated with me throughout my many years on P.E.I. The recent storm about re-routing the TCH in Bonshaw is precisely one of those serpents, feeding itself and existing on short-term single-issue thinking and opportunistic use of government funds.

I am not advocating a return to the past but rather an evocative look to a future where the strengths and values of both the human and non-human inhabitants can thrive in a vision for P.E.I. a hundred years from now.

The steady erosion of rural life and the natural environment it depends on has not gone too far; there is time to choose another way. Time to rise up and tell the serpents this isn't good enough. Wake up and smell those few remaining pines and hemlocks, walk on those hills and meet the inhabitants so beautifully described by Ian MacQuarrie in his 1989 book, The Bonshaw Hills.

Spend the money on a Cornwall bypass and post, then enforce, reasonable speed limits on the Bonshaw Hills section of the highway. Those trucks laden with inventory for fast-food outlets and the box stores would still make it to Charlottetown safely and on time.

Katherine Clough, Halifax, N.S.

April 16, 2012

Not my idea of a 'road to Hell' -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

On March 28, I attended the meeting at New Haven at which government presented its plans - its 'done deal' - about the plan B option for the Trans-Canada Highway through the Bonshaw Hills. At that event, I was rather amazed to hear a fellow trucker get up and say that the present highway from New Haven to Bonshaw was "a road to Hell." "Gracious," I thought to myself, "if this is Hell, then I have nothing to worry about in my personal spiritual journey."

This is how I see that stretch of highway.

As you leave New Haven heading west, and crest the approach to Strathgartney Hill, you see the sloping fields, with all the shades of green on the forested slopes, with the multiple varieties of trees displaying white and pink blossoms in spring and magnificent colours in fall. And on the left, you see the white church, with its spire reaching to the sky, and a view of the West River, meandering around its bends and curves. You top the hill at the Strathgartney Homestead and look out over the beautiful village of Bonshaw, with cattle on pastured hillsides, and get your first view of the Northumberland Strait. The river is here too, and you may see bald eagles, osprey, and fishermen along the shores - with many varieties of ducks and other birds nesting in and about the marshland.

This, in fact, is more like I expect Heaven to be like: peaceful, relaxing, beautiful, compassionate. With regard to this hill being dangerous for drivers, I don't see it as a problem.

I'd like to have a clear explanation as to how many trucks were involved in these accidents. Most drivers I know are responsible people. They drive according to highway conditions and are not out there trying to gain control of the road. My idea of democracy is government elected by the people, for the people. This is not what I was hearing at the New Haven meeting. Instead, the government representatives told us what was going to happen, and we were left with the choice of accepting their plan or face expropriation.

When is the next election? I, for one, will not forget this meeting.

S. Sheldon MacNevin, Bonshaw

If you're concerned, tell your MLA -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Although I do not live in the immediate area to be affected, from what I have observed from a distance, it would seem that the P.E.I. government's proposed changes for the Trans-Canada Highway in Bonshaw was ill-thought-out and ill-researched.

As a taxpayer, I feel that if this decision to go ahead with the project was to no small degree based on spending so-called 50-cent dollars, then I resent that kind of decision-making.

Also, it seems to me that if this is a project that needs to be done so badly, then those who feel it should become a reality have been ‘deafeningly quiet'.

I have spoken to several MLAs and cabinet ministers about this project and was told by one of them that for him it was a rarity for someone to call expressing an opinion, and he appreciated it. That it would be a rare occurrence surprised me.

Finally, I feel if there are others in the general public who have concerns with the project, let your voices and concerns be known. Give the people in the area to be affected your support and help make sure our tax dollars are spent the way we the taxpayers would wish.

Lowell Vessey, York

April 13, 2012

Good government means just that -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

This whole Trans-Canada highway project is obviously a seriously flawed make-work project that will end up costing P.E.I. millions more in debt.

The safety issue is smoke and mirrors spin. The road we have now is so scenic and beautiful for tourists, and exceedingly natural. Destroying some of our best stands of forests for this is insane. You are talking about running over hemlocks? That forest supports some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the province, which has brought millions over the years due to the water resources and trails in the Bonshaw area. I have fished that area for years, and it's truly magical and a rich, unique Island experience of the highest kind.

We have already assaulted our streams and estuaries in many P.E.I. locations beyond repair, and now we want desecrate the land in P.E.I.'s best and finest watershed supporting the West River? It is really time this Liberal government, whom we have trusted to do the right thing for us by many of us voting for them, to stop serving the lowest common denominator and business interests pushing for this project.

For God’s sake and all decency, start governing for your children, and their children, and realize what a strong tourism product we have, which will be harmed in this proposed plan B highway map. Do the right thing and show P.E.I. that this Liberal government truly cares and take steps to axe this project, and save millions of further debt, while allowing what remains of our natural environment to thrive.

Realize that there is far more value for this land here in Bonshaw and area than tearing it up in some short-sighted construction project that we really do not need. That piece of highway is fine to drive. I've driven it for years without any of the scare tactics of the proponents of the project weighing heavy on my mind.

Good government means good government. Listen to the people. They do not want it. Show the people of P.E.I. that this government believes in P.E.I.'s sensitive environment, tourism vistas, provincial parks, and recreational areas.

John Hopkins, Breadalbane

Improve the highway, don't replace it -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I would like to respond to Paul Acorn's letter of Monday, April 9, ‘In favour of a new highway’. After reading the letter, I was left with the impression that there have been numerous recent fatalities on the Trans-Canada Highway between Bonshaw and Churchill.

I attended the March 28 meeting in New Haven. Department of Transportation officials were asked specifically about the accident rate, and replied that there has been one fatality in the last 10 years on the entire stretch from Bonshaw to New Haven. They also mentioned that 6,000 vehicles a day travel this road.

My heart goes out to those connected with this death and I do not mean to dismiss even one fatality, but this is not reason enough to build a new highway. Replacing the highway, rather than simply improving it, is a solution not in proportion to the problem.

Yes, certain sections of this stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway could be improved for safety, however, a brand new 20-plus million dollar highway is definitely not needed.

Shannon MacQuarrie, Bonshaw

April 11, 2012

Captivated by P.E.I.'s landscape -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I would like to add a brief comment to S. Sheldon MacNevin's exquisitely pointed and charming letter to the editor of April 10, 2012 ("Not my idea of ‘a road to Hell' ").

During my several decades of visiting P.E.I. before I moved here, I was always captivated and soothed by the beauty and serenity of the landscape as I drove to Charlottetown from either ferry or the bridge.

This sense still remains with me, and I am reminded that most visitors probably share this reaction. Tourism is extremely important to P.E.I., as are our reactions to our own landscape.

Peter Bower, Victoria-by-the-Sea

Come the election, we'll remember -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

In his well-written letter (The Guardian, March 30, 2012), Rob Thomson exposes the usual lack of common sense that the Ghiz government has displayed concerning changes to the Trans-Canada Highway in the New Haven/Bonshaw area.

Mr. Thomson first identifies the fact that there has been no public explanation by government that would survive logical argument. He poses a most significant question as to who would benefit from the unnecessary waste of over-burdened taxpayers' money ($8-$12 million). He answers his own question by accurately identifying exactly who would benefit ("a few people who have the reputation of being well-connected will be found to have benefited from the contracts and from their remarkably lucky land investments"). He seems to recognize that political patronage is the backbone of this reckless, totally unnecessary move on the part of this arrogant government.

Islanders have the right and the means to put a stop to this project. It's up to us to inform this government in no uncertain terms that it has no mandate whatsoever to proceed with its extravagantly wasteful plan.

The present itinerary calls for a provincial election in 2015. When seeking re-election the provincial Liberal politicians should take heed that ‘we will remember them'!

Ivan Bulger, Charlottetown

April 10, 2012

Group rallies opposition to highway rerouting project -- The Guardian article

Jim Day writes about the "more harm than good coming from Plan B getting the green light."


April 9, 2012

More protests coming for P.E.I. Trans-Canada reroute -- CBC Website

An article on the walks along parts of the proposed route of Highway Plan B.


April 4th, 2012

Liberal double standard on job cuts -- Commentary online in The Eastern Graphic 

Publisher Paul MacNeill gives an overview of short-sighted policy decisions, including Plan B.


April 4, 2012

Crane predicts spring session will be 'tough' on government -- The Guardian article online

A feature article on the spring sitting of the PEI Legislature; with some discussion about Plan B towards the end.


Government to plow ahead, paving over the voice of the taxpaying public  -- Commentary online in The Eastern Graphic

Columnist Jack MacAndrew skewers the accounting of Highway Plan B.


April 3, 2012

A wrong decision, not a difficult one -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

To misquote Joni Mitchell, they are paving paradise to put up a road we don't need with money we don't have. One legacy of this provincial government will be acres of pavement and mountains of debt.

I live on the paved section of the Peters Road in Elmwood. I walk regularly on and off the heritage red clay end of the road going down to the current Trans-Canada at Churchill. It is breathtakingly beautiful with its overarching trees, precious eco-systems, woodland streams and open meadows.

Beauty like this is the heart of P.E.I. and it is not a renewable resource.

Someone at the March 22 meeting at the Kingston Legion asked the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Robert Vessey, if he had walked the survey line where it crosses the Peters Road. He said no. Somehow I knew that. He seemed like a reasonable man. I urge him and all other Islanders to take that walk and ask yourself do we need to rip a road through here in order to save a few minutes trucking goods to Charlottetown?

This is a small province, sparsely populated. We do not need a mega road, as required in the larger provinces, which will simply encourage people to drive faster. Fix the road we have. Slow the traffic, add turning lanes, more lighting, more pavement markings, and more highway patrols.

Sadly, I think plan B will happen unless a lot of Islanders get up on their hind legs and say no to the waste of all that beauty, land and money. The minister said the only thing that is left to complete is the environmental assessment. One of his staff said the hope would be "to mitigate any environmental impact", a statement which reveals the inherent weakness of our environmental laws.

Oh, and Mr. Minister, to say, "governments are elected to make difficult decisions" is merely a rhetorical device to silence us. This is not a difficult decision. It is the wrong decision.

Jennifer Shields, Elmwood

Roundabout a better idea -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Bonshaw highway realignment is a total waste of money. If it's safety that government wants to improve on, check out the number of people's lives that have been lost at the Malpeque Road and the bypass highway intersection. If the government is so hell-bent to spend money it doesn't have, it should put a roundabout there; for that matter, put a roundabout at all the major intersections on the bypass. This would speed up traffic flow and save on fuel consumption. This is a no-brainer. I guess that's why they never thought of it.

Gary McLeod, Charlottetown

Most oppose the highway plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Enough! Just stop it! It ought to be obvious enough to every provincial politician that the vast majority of Prince Edward Island taxpayers do not want a new road through the Strathgartney section.

This is an issue that will have the ‘legs' to affect the next provincial election. If the highway is built, the Liberals are gone. But if the Conservatives play this properly, the Liberals could be gone even if the highway is not built. Finally, here's a real chance for the Opposition to oppose, and make some electoral points doing it. Talk to Gail Shea and ask her to petition her federal caucus to revoke the federal agreement to provide the promised $8 million for the project, on the grounds that the people don't want it. The federal government saves $8 million, the provincial government saves about $12 milllion, both deficits are reduced, and the majority of voters are happy with the provincial Conservatives actually doing something positive.

The current provincial government could then save face, at least a little, by spending some of that saved money to bank a couple of curves properly and maybe police the speed limit. And isn't that what we all want?

Don Wilson, Stratford

April 2, 2012

Lower price tag and a safer road -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I have driven the Bonshaw to New Haven highway for 17 years, and there is not a day that I do not marvel at the beautiful view. I often smile to myself when I see a tourist or maybe someone from the other side of the Island stopped at the side of the road taking pictures and I think to myself: I don't need a picture - I can enjoy this view every day on my way to work.

But wait! The government says this is a treacherous stretch of road and has to be rerouted with plan B.

What is plan B? It is an irresponsible waste of taxpayers' money, and an irreversible destruction of one of the Island's most beautiful areas of steep treed ravines, streams, and old-growth hemlock and pine trees. The government would have you believe that because there are some of us that oppose this new plan, we are against a safe highway. But that is not true. Everyday we, or our loved ones, travel this highway. Why would we oppose safety?

What we oppose is a $16-million-plus price tag. We, the taxpayer, only have to absorb $8 million added to our already high deficit. The other $8 million is federally matched, but that is only if we use it for plan B. But wait: isn't that what they said about plan A when they proposed the Strathgartney, Crapaud, Tryon bypass? So is this about safety or money?

In a perfect world, we would all drive the speed limits and with caution, but that is not the case. So all we ask is that the government reconsider and upgrade the existing highway, minimize the two curves of concern and widen the Bonshaw bridge with a turning lane. We'd have a much lower price tag and a much safer road. I can then continue to enjoy my daily drive to work knowing I do not have to take a picture.

Cathy Bernard, Bonshaw

Wrong group to push around -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I was at the meeting in New Haven last week with hundreds of other angry residents who made it very clear that we were never consulted on this supposed ‘plan B'.

I asked a question that was not sufficiently answered, so I'll ask it again: if the purported reason for this outrageous proposal is road safety, why was it initially enough to only pave a small portion of the stretch at Strathgartney, leaving the rest of the expanse untouched?

Now that the Strathgartney proposal has been (rightly) rejected, why do we need to destroy several kilometres more of some of the last forest on the Island? I was told that it was because the entire road was not up to modern code for turn radius and gradient. Yet, when they wanted to pave over Strathgartney, they didn't seem at all concerned with those exact problems on that very same stretch of road.

Why is this? It was quite clear to all of us at the meeting: ‘plan B' was never a plan B. It seems it was always the intention of the government to destroy Bonshaw and Churchill, and the Strathgartney stunt was just a ruse to distract the public and make it look like we had been listened to. That's why the current plans were never shown at consultations with the public, and why the government has been quietly buying up land in the area north of the highway for over a year now.

We were tricked.

It appears that government officials thought they could swoop in with shiny tax dollars and promises of ‘listening to feedback' and bully the elderly and rural residents in the area into leaving their homes and land. Well, guess what, they have picked the wrong group of ‘country bumpkins' to push around. We are angry. And we will not let the government bully us like this.

Kathryn Sawyer, Clyde River