A group of people fighting the plan to move the Trans-Canada Highway in Bonshaw are holding a plebiscite on the issue next week.

The group against the so-called Plan B said the citizens' plebiscite will begin Monday at 7 a.m. and run through Wednesday until 7 p.m.

All registered voters on the Island will be able to vote online or through mail-in ballots, available at Co-op stores across the province.

Plebiscites have no legal standing with respect to law or decision-making. According to the group's website, they are a simple mechanism for government to learn the opinions of the voting public on an important issue.

The online voting system is not regulated and, theoretically, people can vote as many times as they like.

Chris Ortenburger, one of the organizers of the vote, said she hopes people will use the honour system and not vote too many times.

She said she hopes the provincial government pays attention to the results. 

"I am assuming that politicians, government listens to any sort of strongly expressed public opinion," Ortenburger said, "and anything that kind of opens up democracy, has got to be a good thing."

Dave Moore, owner of Bonshaw Breezes Bed and Breakfast, said he supports the plebiscite to stop the Trans-Canada reroute.  


Dave Moore, owner of Bonshaw Breezes Bed and Breakfast, says 'We are not for this.' (CBC)

"We are not for this," Moore said, "There's no rationale, that we can see, especially when you're close to here, that justifies this expense."

Despite hundreds of signatures on a petition and a large protests outside Province House in April, the P.E.I. government has said the realignment of the Trans-Canada near Bonshaw is going ahead.

Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said the citizens' plebiscite will have no influence on government's decision to move ahead with a realignment of the highway.  

Vessey said residents have had plenty of opportunity to voice their opinion and government has to address what it sees as a safety issue.



Transportation Minister Robert Vessey stands firm on government's decision to move ahead with a realignment of the highway. (CBC)

"I kind of refer to the plebiscite vote like an online petition," Vessey said.  

"We have already received an online petition from the group that is opposed to the highway. We have had eight public meetings and we've even had a meeting with the premier and some of the people that were opposed to it. And this is another form of their opposition to the project. And again we are going forward with the project."    

Vessey expects tenders for the $16 million project will go out in mid-July.  

Construction should begin September 1.

Moore said he and others in Bonshaw are frustrated with the government's unwavering commitment to going ahead with the project.  

"We're getting frustrated with that exact statement, 'It's going ahead, we're going to start the bulldozers next month and that's the way it's going to be,'" Moore said.

Opposition leader Olive Crane said she supports the plebiscite.

She said all Islanders should vote.

"If 10,000 people voted, that certainly would be a message from Islanders that government should pay attention to," Crane said.

Crane said in times of austerity, it's important that government only spend money in areas that are priorities for Islanders. She said this project is not.

The rerouting involves 34 private properties, including 10 homes. The province has said affected residents will be compensated.

About $4 million has been set aside to purchase all of the affected properties, including the large, forested New Haven Campground, which used to be the amusement park, Encounter Creek.