Trans-Canada decision won't be rushed: minister
P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry will not be rushed into making a decision on a controversial rerouting of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Charlottetown.
The province had hoped to start work on the diversion in the Bonshaw area, which it says is necessary for safety reasons, in mid-September. But as September draws to a close, construction is still waiting for a decision on the environmental review.
"I do have experts in my department. I am definitely working with them. I am getting the necessary information that I need," Sherry told CBC News following a cabinet meeting Monday.
"It has to be done in a way that is scientific and fair."
There have been public concerns from opponents of the project, including environmentalists, that the project will just be rubber stamped.
"I hope this is not something they're just going to ram down people's throat whether we want it or not," Jackie Waddell, executive director of the Island Nature Trust, told CBC News Friday.
But Sherry said she'll rigorously follow the environmental review process. The Environment Department is reviewing more than 250 written public submissions on the environmental impact assessment report. That assessment found there were no significant issues that would stop the project, as long as measures were taken to mitigate problems.
Sherry said her department is going through the submissions and weighing people's concerns.
"Make sure that the mitigations that go forward with any of the concerns are ones that will hold any kind of damage at bay," said Sherry.
"Move forward so that there's the least amount of impact on our environment."
Transportation Minister Rob Vessey still expects the project will go ahead.
"But right now it is in progress of the finishing it and we're awaiting the results," said Vessey.
"I expect it to go ahead but again there is a process in place and we have to let that unfold."
Sherry has an environmental advisory council made up of private individuals that she can rely on for input on the issue as well, but she said in the end the decision will be hers.
"It's a ministerial responsibility to approve," she said.
Sherry said won't put a deadline on when she will make a recommendation on the $20 million project.