Nova Scotia

Snow-clearing routes under review

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is hoping to shave $2 million off its snow-clearing budget this year.

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is hoping to shave $2 million off its snow-clearing budget this year.

The department is reviewing the number of snowplows, the routes they use and the amount of road salt they spread on highways and secondary roads.

"If Health is looking at squeezing every penny, if Education is doing it, we're obliged to do the same thing," Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks said Tuesday.

The department expects to spend $52 million to clear roads after storms this winter.

Estabrooks said the cost-cutting measures won't compromise safety.

"There's not going to be any more dangerous roads. There's not going to be any less challenges that people are going to face as they get to and from work," he said.

But Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil isn't convinced.

"I believe Nova Scotians are driving, in some parts of the province, on some very dangerous roads based on the fact we do not have the proper amount of equipment right now. The fact that we're reviewing to remove equipment raises very serious concerns for us," McNeil said.

He doubts the minister's assertion that most of the savings can be achieved by using less road salt.

The Liberals accused the government of keeping the review a secret. They said they were tipped off that it was underway.

Estabrooks said there is no plan to include snow-clearing on a new website designed to consult with Nova Scotians.

New Brunswick announced last week it will employ fewer people and plows this winter in an attempt to cut costs. It expects to save $2.2 million over two years.

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