January 2012

January 31, 2012

It's time for wise decisions -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I need some help understanding how governments decide on priorities in hard financial times (or any time, for that matter).

The province is cutting some RCMP positions, one in the traffic unit. Each job saves about $100,000. Meanwhile, $16 million will be spent to make the highway around Bonshaw safer. For that same amount of money, you could have a Mountie spend eight hours a day there for the next 160 years (or 80 years if you just count the province's share). There are lots of roads on P.E.I. that are dangerous - especially secondary roads in the winter that are poorly plowed and don't receive any salt. The TCH heading west from Charlottetown gets so much salt it must be one of the barest roads in the winter. Stopping speeders and drunk drivers will make us all safer, so let's not use millions for a project that can at least wait until we can afford it.

If governments cared for their shareholders (taxpayers) as corporations do for theirs, they'd quit wasting our money on projects that do so little for the common good: cutting important jobs and then adding more MPs, changing laws to create more criminals and then having to spend a lot of money on jails, billions for questionable fighter jets but little to fight climate change.

I'd like to thank all the people in the Occupy movements who gave so much of their time and comfort to say enough is enough. It's time to make wise decisions - including who we vote for.

Jeanne Maki, Belle River

January 25, 2012

Reconsider highway plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

We strongly object to the Strathgartney Bypass “Plan B” for economic, safety and environmental reasons.

Spending $8 million is irrational and unjustifiable. The “Plan B” TCH project will only increase the province’s debt load and is more about contriving a project that meets the demands of the Gateway Fund, rather than spending money based on provincial financial priorities. If there was no Gateway fund, this project would not exist. Additionally, if this second branch of the TCH is actualized, Islanders will pay to support both routes from Bonshaw to New Haven.

The current TCH safety issues do not warrant a new section of highway through pristine countryside. Widen the Bonshaw Bridge, where necessary add turning lanes and re-bank the critical curves. This would cost less than $8 million to the Province. We will have saved money!

Finally, simply adhering to posted highway speed limits would greatly enhance the safety of this portion of highway.

Bonshaw Breezes is a multiple award-winning B&B, ranked No. 1 on Trip Advisor for most of the 2011 Tourist season. Guests enjoy our relaxing decks with incomparable views and currently neither see nor hear the TCH.

With “Plan B,” we will have relinquished our tranquil setting and panoramic vista in favour of an unwarranted steady stream of traffic noise, vehicle visibility, jake brakes, blaring horns and straining engines! Pure country air and abundant wildlife will be history.

As inaugural recipients of Tourism P.E.I.’s prestigious Brand Essence Award for communicating the Gentle Island Branding, we feel that should “Plan B” come into effect, we would be hypocritical continuing to support this branding, resulting in a new marketing plan.

We ask that you please “seriously” reconsider your “Plan B,” which to date, has not been discussed publicly. Our small reputable business, which we have worked tirelessly to establish, will be seriously jeopardized. If this plan is adopted, we predict our business and guest satisfaction will decline dramatically and our asset value will decrease.

If “Plan B” materializes, our prized location, a blessing to date, will become a curse.

Sharon and Dave Moore, Bonshaw

Plan B land destruction and wasteful spending -- CBC Island Morning Radio

Lindsay Carrol interviewed Jonathan Simmonds about the destruction of land in Bonshaw and wasteful spending.


Economic impact of Plan B on local businesses -- CBC Island Morning Radio

Lindsay Carrol also interviewed Bonshaw Breezes Bed and Breakfast owner Sharon Moore about the impact on her business.


January 20, 2012

New Proposed Highway Route a Reckless Project -- Guest Commentary in The Guardian

By Jonathan Simmonds

I am writing regarding the new proposed route for the Trans-Canada Highway between Bonshaw and New Haven. Having moved as a family from England looking for a peaceful spot, you can imagine our disappointment when we saw the new proposal showing the Trans-Canada Highway just across from our home on the hillside. It seems a bitter irony that, having voiced opposition to the Strathgartney Park option, it results in a far bigger, more expensive project on our doorstep that cuts a completely new highway through the Bonshaw Hills.

It is unfortunate that this alternative route was never even mentioned at the consultation meetings, even though it must have already been waiting in the wings because it was released so soon after the consultations. The minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has been swift to point out how "transparent" they have been with the consultation process. This does not seem transparent at all.

Many people who voiced their opinions at the consultation meetings, were not only calling for the protection of the park but were also expressing concern regarding the folly of unnecessarily spending more than $8 million the province does not have on a grandiose project in order to meet criteria for federal funding.

Given the province's appalling debt burden, this project is reckless. Indeed, the minister of Transportation's own comments in The Guardian (Dec. 23, 2011) confirm that this project is more about finding a project that meets the demands of the Atlantic Gateway Fund, rather than spending money based on provincial priority needs: "Staff in my department worked tirelessly to develop a plan for the highway that satisfied the requirements of the Atlantic Gateway while respecting the wishes of Islanders." If there was no Gateway Fund this project would not even be on the table.

I was also dismayed that the minister feels people who are opposed to the new project are not concerned about safety or feel that the highway is as safe as it could be: "There are certain individuals who still say the work is completely unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Those individuals claim the highway is perfectly safe and no improvements are needed. The families of individuals who have perished on that hill would very likely disagree with anyone who claims the highway is perfectly safe, as would any professional engineer."

I've not met a person who would say no improvements are needed to the TCH. It's a debate about scale. We would just argue that the current TCH safety issues do not warrant the building of a whole new section of highway through unspoilt countryside. Coming from the UK where most roads are insanely busy, hilly, and full of sharp bends compared to P.E.I., a project of this scale seems absurdly out of proportion to the problem, population and pocket of P.E.I.

The traffic noise and traffic view will change the Bonshaw River valley forever for both the residents affected and for the many who come to walk and cycle the Bonshaw Hills trail and canoe and fish in the popular Crosby's Pond area. Like the majority of local residents, I was happy that the highway did not go through the Strathgartney Park. The province listened. But neither do we need to build a whole new highway to improve road safety in the area. Will our voices be heard this time?

Jonathan Simmonds moved to Bonshaw from the UK three years ago.

January 19, 2012

Protecting the beauty and peace that is ours -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

I'm writing about the plan B for the Strathgartney bypass. In fact, I'm writing about any additional highways being built on P.E.I.

We have more than sufficient highways from lovely heritage roads to the Trans-Canada Highway. Many of these are in poor repair and many of them need repairs or alterations. It is easy to become insular (on an island) and lose objectivity, but one doesn't have to travel far off P.E.I. to recognize that our roads are safe; we do not have traffic problems.

In addition, the Island is unique, a sanctuary, where many of us have chosen to live. To what end do we wish to speed up, garner more debt, and ‘pave over Paradise'? We are wired as human beings to want more, do more, have more but that doesn't mean it is what's best for our well-being, nor is it necessarily progress.

There are agendas involved here that have nothing to do with real people whose lives will be disrupted and their little piece of natural tranquility damaged.

Please think of maintaining the roads we have, and protecting the beauty and peace that is ours and is so rare today.

And finally, our lucrative tourism is based on this.

Ruth Lacey, Bonshaw