Transportation

Road 5-Year Plan

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NS Road Plan

The government released it’s list of planned road work across the province.  There are a few things benefitting Argyle in it, and a few things for Barrington too.

For 2013 – 2014 in Yarmouth County, repaving on the 203, 7.2 kms from the Cannan Road to the North Kempt Road.  For 2014-15 6.5 kms Trunk 3 from Willets Road to the County Line, East Pubnico.  The Indian Sluice Bridge is also noted as it is a multi-year project.

In Barrington, looks like a little bit of chip seal, 1 km on Factory Hill Road, Barrington, 1.27 kms Pope’s Road, Upper Wood’s Harbour  and 0.7 kms on West Bear Point Road.

All in all, not a lot to see here for us, but have a look on page 8, where you can see a comment from Bridge Replacement Chairman Earl Muise, saying;

Many of us have been working for decades to have our very old bridge replaced. The new two-lane bridge will be a milestone in our community’s history and development.”

— P. Earl Muise, chair, Indian Sluice Bridge Replacement Committee

New Ferry Service for Nova Scotia?

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Friday’s announcement to restore ferry service from Yarmouth to Maine is a positive step, but proves the Dexter government was wrong from the start when they abruptly cancelled it three years ago.

“The viability of the ferry should have been determined from the start, not after the NDP made the costly mistake to cancel the service,” said d’Entremont. “In the three years the NDP have wasted, the economy has been driven into the ground, businesses have closed and families have had to leave. It’s unacceptable.”

d’Entremont says today’s announcement proves the NDP got it wrong, but won’t admit it or apologize to the people who have lost their jobs or businesses. Statistics Canada data released today show Southern Nova Scotia is down 8,600 full-time jobs over the past three years.

“Our region has been suffering since the loss of the ferry service,” said d’Entremont. “It will take hard work to get tourism numbers back where they were before the NDP cancelled the ferry but I think businesses, residents and all levels of government want this and will work together to make it happen.”

d’Entremont says he will continue to work with West Nova MP Greg Kerr to encourage the federal Conservative government to reaffirm their commitment to renovate or replace the ferry terminal facility.

Spring 2012 legislative session ends

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After about 6 weeks in the legislature, I’ve got say that this was one of the most bizarre sessions in my 9 years as MLA for Argyle.

As a quick explanation of legislative sessions, the Government is in charge of the daily operation of the house, calling bills and business for us to debate and work on. They of course call their pieces of legislation and try to keep the house open for at least the hours that were called the previous day. Towards the end of the session the longest hours were Wednesday when we, the opposition, get to call bills and resolutions for debate. Otherwise we only sat for a couple of hours during the daily routine, which is a set agenda for introduction of bills, resolutions and petitions. It also includes the prescribe hour long question period.

What I am trying to get at, beyond the budget, this NDP government had no legislative agenda to present to Nova Scotians. It reminded those who have been elected a while, like an old government that is out of good ideas. Unfortunately there were a number of good ideas presented by the PC Caucus that would be important legislation for Nova Scotia. The following is our end-of-session press release that was sent out criticising the government for it’s ineffectiveness.

Darrell Dexter’s NDP government failed to take action on the major issues Nova Scotians care about during the Spring session of the legislature which ended today.

“Nova Scotians should be rightfully disappointed to hear their government did nothing to protect them from hospital shutdowns and rising power rates in this House session,” said PC leader Jamie Baillie. “Parents should be rightfully disappointed in the NDP’s weak stance on bullying.”

The NDP government refused to pass PC legislation that would end the type of healthcare labour shutdown that led to over 500 cancelled surgeries and thousands of cancelled appointments at Capital Health last month. The NSNU’s 6,500 nurses are going into negotiations now.

The NDP government also refused to pass any of the five PC bills that tackle higher power rates. Instead the Premier is moving forward with the expensive Muskrat Falls project without knowing how much it will cost ratepayers. The deal was apparently sealed with Emera executives on their corporate jet and there is mysteriously no paper trail available for Nova Scotians to learn how much they will be expected to pay for the deal or how the deal came together, in spite of repeated questions and FOIPOPs.

The NDP passed weak legislation on bullying that is very narrow in focus and ineffective in addressing a problem that has caused great harm to too many Nova Scotia children and their families.

“The NDP have let down Nova Scotians on power rates, heathcare shutdowns and bullying,” said Baillie. “The NDP should not have ended the House session without addressing these important matters.”

Baillie noted the NDP began the session by presenting their fourth consecutive deficit budget and announcing a $260 million forgivable loan to Irving Shipbuilding, with no details yet provided to Nova Scotians.

The NDP failed to pass legislation that would give grandparents’ consideration in custody arrangements, but did pass a law that allows them to push government propaganda messages to Nova Scotians’ cell phones.

The PC’s also demanded the resignation of the NDP’s Community Services Minister for her mishandling of confidential information regarding Talbot House and failing to warn a daycare of an alleged child abuser in their employ. The Premier stood by his incompetent Minister.

Indian Sluice Bridge Closure

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The bridge will be closed on Thursday from 9 to noon and then 12:30 to 2:30.

This closure will be to remove the osprey nest on the centre span.  The nest will be move to another location so that the birds may continue to grow in the area.  This is another step in the pre-construction phase of the new bridge that will begin construction this summer to replace the 100+ year old span.

Question on Yarmouth Ferry – Gardner Pinfold Report

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Question I asked the NDP Government on the newly released Gardner Pinfold Report on the viability of a ferry service from Yarmouth to New England. Copied from Hansard November 16, 2011.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, yesterday an economic analysis study suggested that a business case can be made for a Nova Scotia to New England international ferry service. The study completed by Gardner Pinfold Consulting supports the contention that a seasonal international ferry operation between Nova Scotia and the United States could be financially viable and contribute billions of dollars to the provincial economy. On November 16, 2010 the Premier (Interruptions) I’ve been hearing lots of noise from the government here. They don’t even want to hear about a report from Gardner Pinfold. I’ll happily continue on here and maybe they’ll listen. On November 16, 2010, the Premier told the CBC, what we said to the municipal officials here is that we are perfectly willing to work with officials in Yarmouth to look for a service that will suit the region and one that is sustainable over the long term. The business community has satisfied the Premier’s 2010 condition. Mr. Speaker, will the Premier fulfill his 2010 promise and support the community on the ferry project and provide some hope to our area?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member ought to actually take the study and read it. In fact what it says is that if the Canadian dollar should decline, if the U.S. economy should increase, if they are able to generate four times as many passengers on a new ferry as they did on the old one, then it will become a sustainable business. What I have said is that we are prepared to participate in any service that shows itself to be a viable, continuing service for the area and we stand by that.

MR. D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, in this House on May 11th the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism said, “What we are also willing to do, and I’ve said this time and time again, if somebody comes forward to us with a plan with respect to – whether it be ferry service or anything else, we are willing to look at it and it will be measured on its own merit.” According to the Gardner Pinfold study, an effective marketing campaign combined with a creative tour package, could see a recovery of U.S. traffic exceeding 100,000 passengers in the first year of renewed Yarmouth-Portland cruise ferry service. The minister has seen this study. We know this because he is quoted in the press release issued by the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership. He has seen the evidence and he knows that an international ferry has merit. My question to the minister is, will he commit today to making the ferry project a priority for his department? Will he act quickly so that southwest Nova Scotia doesn’t lose another tourist season and sink further into despair?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, what this government and what I will commit to, that if a viable, sustainable transportation system for the southwest region comes forward, this government has said we would look at it. It will stand on the business case that is presented with it and with its own merit. That’s what I offered, it’s a fair offer.

MR. D’ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the traffic forecast contained in the Gardner Pinfold study projects the ferry service could expect to break even, or even generate a modest positive net return and an annual revenue stream in the $24 million to $26 million range. Add this figure to the expected economic impact associated with the ferry service, $16 million in annual gross tourism spending throughout the province, $3.5 million – that’s about 21 per cent – would be spent annually in the Yarmouth-Acadian Shore-South Shore impact regions, the creation of 260 jobs, the creation of $8 million of labour income in the province and $1.7 million in southwest Nova Scotia. These figures represent a lifeline to a drowning region, Mr. Speaker. I’m just asking that this government doesn’t blow this opportunity. They said a business case can be made for the Cape Breton railroad and they supported that project. My question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is, now that the minister has proof that the wanted ferry service is viable, will he act in his best interest for the people of Nova Scotia and southwest Nova Scotia, just as he did for Cape

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, if someone comes forward with a business case, what the member is quoting is – he is quoting from a report. I think, and I said yesterday, that report is based on certain assumptions, which I may add, assumptions and conclusions that are very, very generous. Mr. Speaker, if somebody wishes to come forward with a solid business case, as I said, we will look at it. It will be measured and evaluated on the merits of the business case that it presents to us.

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New Completion Date for Tusket River Bridge

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FYI, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal released this on Monday in regards to the completion of the Tusket bridge. This is disappointing as up to now the date was a December 15 completion.

Here is the release:

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal
October 31, 2011 3:05 PM
Construction of the new Tusket River Bridge on Highway 3, Yarmouth County, will be complete by late May 2012.

Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal officials had planned for it to be finished this December. However, delays in design, regulatory permits, tendering, and getting specialized material and equipment needed meant the completion date had to be extended.

All in-water work will still be completed this year but the May 31 date allows for spring paving.

“We recognize how important the new bridge is to the community and appreciate their patience,” said Bill Estabrooks, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “We’ll continue to work with the contractor to ensure every effort is made to have the new bridge finished as soon as possible.”

Work on the new bridge has begun.

Dexter Construction was awarded the contract, valued at $3.7 million. The new Tusket River Bridge is part of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal’s 5-Year Highway Improvement Plan.

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Indian Sluice Bridge replacement moves up priority list

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TUSKET, NS – The Indian Sluice Bridge replacement will happen sooner than was anticipated thanks to the hard work from the Bridge Replacement Committee to make the project a priority, Argyle MLA Chris d’Entremont said today.

Originally, the bridge replacement was going to take place in 2013/14 but the timeline has been moved up to a 2012/13 start.

“This bridge is an important artery in Argyle and I was pleased that replacement was ramped up an entire year earlier,” said d’Entremont. “Instead of performing small item, preventative maintenance year after year, the replacement will ensure the bridge is safe, open and accessible for residents’ use.”

In the meantime, the Bridge will be subject to periodic closures to allow for strengthening repairs. Beginning October 5th, the bridge will be closed Monday to Friday from 9-12:30 pm and 1-2:30 pm.

d’Entremont said the Indian Sluice Bridge was one of the priority infrastructure projects in Argyle.

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Location:Tusket, NS