P.E.I. cabinet approved $17.6M in special warrants for road work
'It was important to make investment in rural roads,' says transportation minister
The P.E.l. cabinet has approved a special warrant of more than $17.6 million for the Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.
Special warrants are issued for spending above what has been budgeted.
Transportation Minister Steven Myers says the extra money for his department's capital operating fund was spent on roads that were in need of repair.
"We had a particularly hard winter on the roads and if everybody recalls back to the spring, we had a bad break up and our main roads in particular were beat up bad," Myers said.
He said the roads were in "terrible shape" when he became transportation minister and rural P.E.I. has to have strong and stable "transportation corridors."
"That's what we built and that's what we intend to keep building. It's embarrassing the way that they have been left over the last 10 years and quite frankly that's not the way we're going to treat rural Islanders," Myers said.
Myers notes the province had a one-time top up of the gas tax of $5 million, and the only way to spend it was to put it through capital projects. He said that money will be coming back to the province.
The rest of the money is part of the regular roads program with Ottawa and it will be up to the provincial government to determine where the extra money will come from, Myers said.
185 kilometres paved
This year the provincial government paved 185 kilometres of roads, mostly in rural P.E.I., Myers said.
"It was important to make investment in rural roads. All our lobster landings are landed in rural Prince Edward Island. All of our potatoes are harvested in rural Prince Edward Island. All of our raw product is from rural Prince Edward Island," he said.
Myers said ensuring those products get to market is key, and part of that is bettering the roads.
Myers said though the road work needed an additional $17.6 million, it was necessary to do it all in one year.
"I care about rural Islanders, I care about getting products to market. I care about those people that have to travel to the city centres every single day for their job," he said.
Myers said people in rural communities he's spoken to are commenting on the great shape of the roads, not on the overspending, and he stands by his decision.
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With files from Angela Walker