News Release Archive

Some questions and answers about the Cobequid Pass:

Q: Why not just scrap the tolls altogether; couldn't we pay for
the road over time from tax revenue or borrowed money?

A: No. The provincial treasury simply can't afford it. We have to
live within the limits of our ability to pay. 

Q: Didn't the premier  promise to do away with the tolls, and
isn't this announcement a broken promise?

A: Absolutely not. His commitment was to revisit the issue and to
address the legitimate concerns of people who claimed to be
disadvantaged by the proposed toll regime.  We've done that, and
the option we are advancing is an attempt to address those
concerns in a way that is responsible and fair to both residents
of the area and to all other Nova Scotian taxpayers.

Q: Aren't the people of Cumberland and Colchester counties right
to point out that they are the only Nova Scotians forced to pay a
toll to use a road in their communities?

A: No. What we have are reasonable alternatives. The option we
are advancing means significantly reduced tolls for frequent
users of Highway 104, while people still have a chance to use the
existing road which will always be there, much safer due to
traffic reduction and restrictions --and toll-free.

Q: Isn't it unfair that there is a toll on this road when other
new highway construction is financed in the traditional method?

A: No. It's unusual, but not unfair. A decision was made to build
this road much more quickly than traditional funding arrangements
would have permitted. That decision was made to improve public
safety. When the decision was made, the government did not feel
it was in a position to add this significant sum to the public
debt. Those objectives are sound and laudable.

Q: Truckers don't have a choice. Have you considered them?

A: Yes. We are proposing a lower toll than previously planned for
trucks. The new highway, which will be well-maintained from toll
revenues, will cut the costs for trucks travelling through that
part of the province and rebate them costs equivalent to the fuel
tax they would have paid to use the highway.  

Q: The tolls aren't gone, and Nova Scotia taxpayers will be
paying more for the highway. Is this actually any better than the
previous tolling scheme?

A: Considerably better. This option recognizes that Nova Scotians
who must use the highway more frequently deserve special
consideration. At the same time, it acknowledges that this
consideration has to be extended in concert with the province's
current fiscal regime so that other areas and other government
programs can be maintained.

Q: Do you expect this compromise will be viewed as universally

A: Not really. Our objective was to develop a funding option that
was fair, and within the fiscal constraints we inherited and have
to live with. We have done that. The critics can speak for
themselves, but I invite them to offer a better alternative than
the one we are proposing today.

Q: Is user-pay a fair and appropriate method of financing highway

A: In this case it's inescapable. The tolls were required in
order to build the road quickly and improve highway safety,
without adding significantly to the debt of the province.

Q. Isn't the real issue the cost and/or inconvenience forced on
one area of the province?

A. Absolutely not. The real issues are safety and choice.
Motorists now have (a) a safe option at a nominal cost which can
transport them quickly and directly and /or (b) a safe option at
no cost that can transport them scenically and through full
service areas. That's a win-win option for motorists, whether 
they be frequent or occasional.


Contact: Peter MacLellan or Kim Jardine
         Premier's Office

         Chris Welner
         Transportation and Public Works

ngr                   August 29, 1997 - 10:32 am