Nova Scotia

Halifax councillor driving toll road talks again

A member of Halifax council is once again raising the idea of a toll on roads leading into the city.
Half of Canadians surveyed in a 2011 online poll conducted exclusively for CBC News by Leger Marketing said they would be willing to pay road tolls if it would ease gridlock and shorten their commute. (Kevin Frayer/CP)

A councillor in the Halifax area is once again raising the idea of a toll on roads leading into the city.

Coun. David Hendsbee, who represents the Preston and the Eastern Shore area, first started talking about it two years ago.

"There are some people [who] say I'm crazy. Some people say it's genius," he said.

The councillor said he knows not everyone will like the idea, but he firmly believes in putting tolls on all roads leading into peninsular Halifax.

He said in order to change traffic patterns motorists have to change their driving habits.

One way to do that is make people pay.

"To change habits it’s going to have to cost people to do that. Right now, people on the eastern side of the harbour pay to get into the peninsula over the bridges, but traffic from the western side of the municipality pay nothing so if there's going to be traffic on the peninsula why doesn't all the residents pay for it in some form or fashion? So there would be a user fee. Those who wish to use their cars to go on the peninsula pay a small user fee," said Hendsbee.

Before there could be a toll road, Hendsbee said there needs to be more infrastructure in place, including improved road networks for alternate ways of travel.

"Put the bike lanes in, park and rides in, put all the express bus services in," he said.

But not everyone around the council table agrees.

"It’s certainly not an idea that I'm in favour of. I think there's other alternate things we can be looking at express bussing and even perhaps ferry, fast light rail," said Coun. Brad Johns.

Hendsbee said he expects tolls will be part of several public transit discussions in HRM over the upcoming months.

Still, he said tolls are at least a decade away.