March 2012

March 31, 2012

Trans-Canada is unique on the Island -- The Guardian online column From The Ivory Tower

Alan Holman provides some insights on why TCH is where it is, and some comments about altering it.

March 30, 2012

Let's rethink this highway plan -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Why doesn't the provincial government drop the idea of re-creating the TCH at Bonshaw? It just seems so pointless.

• The plan doesn't really address the facts of the safety theme, in that the map of accidents indicates there's no clear cluster at the site of the proposed new stretch of road, and in that there are simpler, cheaper ways (e.g. signage, enforcement, an additional lane in some places) to reduce the presumed dangerous driving conditions. Indeed, the straightening of the road will just speed up the dangerous driving of some people.

• The new construction will disrupt the lives of many residents. How would any of us like being pushed out of our homes for the sake of this bit of road?

• It will, for little or no benefit, gouge out more pieces of nature and farmland.

• With two essentially parallel roads, on-going maintenance costs (snow removal, repairs etc.) will be doubled.

• Who will derive economic benefits other than road contractors and their workers? And surely they can benefit equally from work on other more useful projects like rebuilding of existing roads that have broken down?

• 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.

• Many people - Bonshaw-area residents, conservationists, waste-conscious taxpayers throughout the province -are going to be deeply angered if this thing goes ahead.

• There are needier projects that would better serve the aims of employment, road safety and facilitation of transport. Think of completing the North River/Cornwall bypass, for instance.

The whole thing has the appearance of artificiality - of merely responding to availability of federal cost-sharing. And clearly that is not free money: it will gobble up at least $8-$2 million provincial dollars at a time when government is bemoaning deficits and cutting back on spending in needy areas of provincial obligation. Why should cities, for example, have five per cent chopped from their funding (which will have citizens paying extra municipal tax) for the sake of a piece of new paving that virtually no one wants?

Can't we rethink the Bonshaw highway project?

Rob Thomson, Charlottetown

The Political Panel discuss the federal budget and Plan B -- CBC Island Morning Radio

The Political Panel of Paul MacNeill, Nancy Key, and Mary Lynn Kane discuss the federal budget and Plan B.

March 29, 2012

The government meeting unveiling Plan B doesn't go as planned -- CBC Compass TV News

Stephanie VanKampen reports on the public information meeting (@15 minutes)

March 28, 2012

Not too late to reverse decision -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

A decision has been made by the provincial government to build a major highway through an area which would more appropriately be designated as natural heritage worthy of preservation, as became clear during a recent tour of the proposed route. This decision reflects poor public policy which ignores major social, environmental and fiscal considerations.

It is not too late to reverse direction and instead make repairs to the existing highway, rather than destroy a natural area of unique significance; this would be the more responsible and probably more popular course of action.

Lynne Douglas and Andrew Wells, Hazel Grove

Liberals' plan B no real alternative -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

Citizens deserve many things from their governments - amongst them transparency, openness and a clear vision of the road ahead. Here on P.E.I. all of these seem in short supply, particularly surrounding the recent decision to continue with so-called improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway in the Strathgartney area.

There was a very loud and sizable protest to the original plan presented to the public some months ago, and the Liberals' response was to concoct a never-before-seen alternative - the so-called plan B. The government claimed to have listened to Islanders, and that abandoning the original route, which bisected Strathgartney Park, was an example of a government that is responsive to its citizens' opinions. That's a little like a bully showing up at your house threatening to burn it down, and when you protest, he tilts his head sympathetically, says that he has understood your concerns and tells you that he won't torch the place after all; he'll just smash in the windows — and you'd better be appreciative.

Try as I might, I find it impossible to unearth any kind of coherent vision from Mr. Ghiz's Liberals. Like their predecessors, they appear to lurch from one issue to the next, patching up problems and scrambling around looming crises. A clear transportation policy with a long-term vision that focuses primarily on the needs of Islanders, has an appreciation of the uncertain place of long-distance haulage in our economic future, and respects the democratic, social and environmental values held dearly by all Islanders would never consider such blasphemy as plan B. We need an affordable, efficient and sustainably integrated transportation policy on P.E.I., and this proposal moves us in exactly the opposite direction.

The Liberal road ahead is a half-baked plan that steamrolls the rights of local citizens and spends at least $12 million of P.E.I. taxpayers' money that we can't afford at a time of great fiscal peril. If this is an example of the Liberals getting Islanders "moving forward together", I predict a rough road ahead for all of us.

Peter Bevan-Baker, Hampton

Learning more a lot faster -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Department of Transportation has scheduled a public information session for tonight on its plan B for the Trans-Canada Highway from New Haven to Bonshaw.

The setup for this meeting is the same abnormal arrangement, about which many people complained, that was used to give ‘information' about plan A, the Strathgartney route: no chairs, and civil servants stationed at maps around the walls to answer identical questions over and over from individuals, in the midst of hubbub and discomfort. It is a setup designed to diffuse attention and make little progress.

Those of us living in this beautiful area that the government intends to desecrate for insufficient reason - which should be of concern to all Islanders - plan to change this setup, in a respectful way, so that there will be one question at a time that all can hear, and one answer, before moving on to other questions. We are going to bring chairs. We are going to face them the same way, sit in them, and ask that the officials - and the minister, please - face us in the usual way, make whatever presentation they want, and take questions. That way, we will all learn a lot more a lot faster.

I invite everyone to join us, with a portable chair, at the New Haven Legion.

Terry Pratt, Elmwood

March 27, 2012

CBC Compass

Stephanie vanKampen goes along on a walk of the proposed Plan B highway surveyor's cut

March 24, 2012

It's all about federal dollars -- The Guardian Letter to the Editor

A look at the map of government's Plan B for the Trans-Canada Highway shows that it is designed, really, to increase the speed of trucks on the highway. The impact on Bonshaw will be to increase, even more, the speed of the downhill traffic coming into the village.

Speeds are already excessive. The speed of vehicles, particularly the trucks, racing to go up the hill is also excessive.

My contact with and interest in Bonshaw is as the music director of Coro Dolce, which has rehearsed in the lovely Bonshaw Hall these past two summers. We hope to continue there. Being there through two summers has brought me to love the place, and to be concerned for preserving the beauty that is there.

The flaw in the beauty now is when trucks come down the hill and cross the bridge. The noise drowns out the choir and shakes the building. Given a little straighter shot at the downhill run, plus a roomier bridge, the problem will become worse.

The map of Plan A marked where all the accidents had been for the previous five years. This was when the fiction was that it was all about safety. The places that they called dangerous were not where the accidents were happening. I sent a request for a map from Borden-Carleton to Charlottetown, with all the accidents marked, to see if there was a concentration of accidents in the affected zone. My request was not even acknowledged.

The map for Plan B doesn't have accident locations marked.

The reason for building the road comes down to the presence of federal dollars, as long as they spend an equal amount of provincial dollars and do something with it. The thought of saving money by not taking the federal dollars is unnatural to governmental thought. Governmental thought, by the way, is an oxymoron.

The plan is to build a highway. Where it goes and what beauty is destroyed along the way is secondary.

Carl Mathis, Charlottetown

March 23, 2012

Bonshaw residents express outrage over TCH route  -- The Guardian online

Mitch MacDonald writes on the residents' opposition to Plan B.

Trans-Canada reroute frustrates affected residents -- CBC Island Morning Radio

Stephanie VanKampen attends a community meeting or residents of Bonshaw and New Haven.