Smith-McCrossin: It’s time for the tolls to come off

It's time for the McNeil Liberals to remove the tolls on the Cobequid Pass and stop putting Cumberland County residents and businesses at a disadvantage, says Cumberland North MLA, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin.

“For too long, my community has shouldered the costs of this highway. The government has indicated that it has collected enough revenue to pay the existing debt, so it’s time for the tolls to come off,” says Smith-McCrossin.

Today, Smith-McCrossin introduced a bill called An Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1995, the Highway 104 Western Alignment Act that would require the government to pay its debt to Western Alignment, then remove the tolls from the Cobequid Pass.

For years, the McNeil Liberals have flip-flopped on when the tolls will be removed. Most recently, in 2018, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal assured Nova Scotians that the debt would be paid off and the tolls removed by April 1, 2020. The McNeil Liberals flip-flopped again on this promise in January when the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Lloyd Hines, said that the tolls would stay in place for at least another year.

These tolls have a significant impact on the local community that regularly uses this highway.

“The Cobequid Pass tolls put all business and people in my county at a significant disadvantage, as we are forced to pay tolls on top of taxes to ship products and to travel anywhere east of the toll booth,” says Bill Dowe, Trucking and Excavating. “It will be a great day for Cumberland County and for Nova Scotia when we are no longer burdened by these tolls.

When asked yesterday in Question Period about the removal of these tolls, Minister Hines said that his government is going to take advantage of these extra funds for highway improvements, so that they won’t have to use general revenue.

“There are many highways in many communities that are in need of maintenance and repairs, but there is only one that is being forced to pay an additional toll on top of the taxes they already pay for these services,” says Smith-McCrossin.