Minister faces hostile meeting over highway changes
Transportation Minister Robert Vessey faced a large crowd opposed to a realignment of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Charlottetown at a public meeting Wednesday night.
This meeting was supposed to be a walk-through event, where people could review the latest map of the proposed route, and ask questions one-on-one with the minister and transportation and environment officials.
But locals opposed to the realignment had a different format in mind. About 100 people grabbed chairs and staged a sit-in, demanding they be allowed to ask questions one at a time, in front of everyone.
Government officials agreed to change the format, and for an hour, Vessey and government officials took questions from a crowd that was almost exclusively hostile to the idea. Only one person at the meeting, a trucker, applauded the government's plan.
The latest map showed a detailed drawing of the highway, which would bypass what the government describes as dangerous curves and steep inclines in the Bonshaw area. The map included the grade of the new road, the lanes, and access points. Denise Reiser didn't like what she saw. She described the area the new highway would go through as beautiful and environmentally sensitive.
"Many people are fired up and they're not going to let this happen. It can't happen," she said.
But Vessey told the crowd the project is virtually a done deal.
"Cabinet has endorsed the proposal," he said.
"We're ready to proceed with the alignment."
Vessey said the only thing holding back the project now is an environmental assessment, which he is confident will not be a problem.