With construction set to begin, four owners in the Bonshaw-New Haven area whose properties were identified as being in the path of the Trans-Canada Highway realignment still have not settled with the province and may face expropriation.


Construction is set to begin on the controversial Trans-Canada realignment project. (CBC)

On Monday, Environment Minister Janice Sherry gave the project a green light.

An agreement was struck Tuesday morning with one property owner.

"Well, there's two properties that we'll probably need in short order. So if we don't come to an agreement with those property owners, we will likely expropriate those by the end of the week," said Kim Horrelt, the province's director of infrastructure.

The province hopes to acquire those two properties before Christmas, said Horrelt.

"The other two properties, we won't need those right away and we're still negotiating with those property owners. So we'll see how that plays out."

Construction begins

Work began to ramp up Tuesday on the project.

Construction workers and transportation officials received a detailed environmental briefing at the old fun park in New Haven, which the government now owns.

More surveying was also done.

Government has already signed two tenders worth $15 million. The main contractor is Island Construction, which has subcontracted work to Island Coastal.

"They'll be anxious to get going as soon as they can," said Transportation Minister Robert Vessey.

"They'll start with some tree cutting and then they'll go into cut and fills, and then put in the environmental mulches and the sediment ponds in place."

But with construction about to be fast-tracked, concerned citizens are vowing to continue the fight.

Peaceful protests planned

"We knew how this was going to unfold. Yesterday's announcement was entirely predictable. I mean, frustrating and infuriating though it was, I mean, it was quite inevitable that this was the point we were coming to. So we've been preparing for this for a long time," said local resident Peter Bevan-Baker.


Peter Bevan-Baker says protests will be organized. (CBC)

Bevan-Baker said they're working on a court injunction to try to stop the project so more environmental hearings can be held.

They're also planning to disrupt construction.

"There will certainly be some civil disobedience. There will be some organized protest onsite and I have to, of course, for a lot of reasons, keep quiet about that," said Bevan-Baker.

"But it will be very orderly, very peaceful. But and there are a lot of people very mobilized about this and they're going to come out and they're going to, if necessary, sit in front of bulldozers."

Vessey said any protests will be dealt with.

"We've had some discussions around that, and we'll take appropriate measures when and if the time comes. And we would fight an injunction, yes."

Environment a 'priority'

Meanwhile, the province said it is going above and beyond to protect the environment on the project including planting fast-growing grass to cover the land to combat erosion.

This is in response to an area watershed group's concerns that exposing bare land during the winter will mean erosion of silt into the West River

"Environment is certainly, as well as safety, are two main priorities for this project and I think being in constant communication with the contractor and working on this control plan and ensuring that it's done properly will help," said Horrelt.

"I don't think you'll see any difference to the West River after this project's done."

For mobile device users: Should citizens plan protests to take place on the Trans-Canada realignment construction site?