Nova Scotia Seeks Federal Funding for Highways

first_imgNova Scotia continues to press the federal government for a better deal on highway funding. Acting Transportation Minister Michael Baker met with federal Transport Minister Jean Lapierre today, Aug. 5, in Halifax to discuss highway, air and port issues. Mr. Baker said he was encouraged by Mr. Lapierre’s recognition of the difficulties facing small airports and seaports, but more money for transportation infrastructure from Ottawa is Nova Scotia’s top priority. Mr. Baker said the federal government collected more than $135 million in motive fuel taxes from Nova Scotia last year, but returned only $3.7 million in highway spending. In contrast, the Nova Scotia government is spending $307 million on highways in the current fiscal year — $50 million more than it expects to collect in gas taxes. “The Nova Scotia government is spending more on highways than we take in and we think it is only fair that the federal government adopt the same approach,” Mr. Baker said. “Highway safety is our priority but improving our road network is vital for our economy.” Both governments expect to sign an agreement this fall to cost-share twinning projects on highways 101 and 104. The agreement calls for each government to contribute $30.5 million, with Nova Scotia picking up all additional costs to complete the projects. The ministers also talked about the financial struggles of small airports and small seaports. Studies conducted by both levels of government have indicated that a number of smaller airports will not be able to survive without external financial support. The high cost of service to passengers flying in and out of Sydney was discussed and Mr. Lapierre agreed to pursue the issue with Air Canada. “We applaud the federal government for its support to small airports through the Airport Capital Assistance Program, but we need to gather all interested groups together and search for long-term options to keep these airports in business,” Mr. Baker said. A similar situation is facing Nova Scotia’s seaports. Most small seaports have been taken over by community groups that do not have the money to deal with new security requirements and long-term improvements. “Small airports and small seaports serve the public and play a significant role in the economy,” Mr. Baker said. “We’d like to see the federal government work closely with key stakeholders to find ways to maintain our airports and seaports.”last_img read more