45% opposed to Trans-Canada re-route: poll
Poll does not concern transportation minister
More than twice as many Prince Edward Islanders are opposed to a project re-routing the Trans-Canada Highway west of Charlottetown than support it, an exclusive poll done for CBC News shows.
The project, also known as Plan B, has been contentious since it was proposed. Protesters converged on Province House, complaining it would be harmful to the environment and was unnecessary. A protest camp is still active near the construction site.
The province maintains the realignment is necessary for safety reasons.
At the request of CBC News Corporate Research Associates in Halifax polled 600 Islanders last month. The results show only 19 per cent agreed with the province's decision to go ahead with the realignment at Bonshaw, with 45 per cent disagreeing. The poll is considered accurate within four percentage points 19 times out of 20.
"I suspect that the 19 per cent alone will not be a concern to the government," said CRA CEO Don Mills.
"They'll look at the people who have a neutral opinion and say, 'You know what? We break even on this decision.' Having said that, having 45 per cent in disagreement with the decision is a significant number."
Plan B opponent Chris Ortenburger said she is not surprised by the lack of support for the project, and believes the government should heed the poll results.
"I think they could be extremely responsive to the electorate and realize that it's not too late to stop it," said Ortenburger
"That would be an incredibly courageous step toward improving democracy on this Island and maybe trying to re-establish a relationship with the electorate."
Ortenburger said government could save a lot of taxpayer money by stopping the project now.
Transportation Minister Robert Vessey said he's not concerned by the results of the CBC poll.
"We don't make decisions in the Department of Transportation based on polls," said Vessey.
"We do it on engineering and safety to the traveling public. And in this case the alignment is what we've done."
The $16-million construction project is being cost-shared evenly with the federal government. The province has budgeted an additional $4 million to purchase properties along the route.