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Liberals ponder Newfoundland-Labrador fixed link

The Liberal Party of Canada is considering the feasibility of a “fixed link” for transportation to and from the island of Newfoundland.
The Liberal Party of Canada is considering the feasibility of a “fixed link” for transportation to and from the island of Newfoundland. - Google map

MP supports pursuing Newfoundland-Labrador transportation project

The Liberal Party of Canada will wrap up voting this Sunday for ranking the proposed resolutions for its 2018 national convention, and one of the resolutions calls on the party to determine the feasibility of a “fixed link” for transportation to and from the island of Newfoundland.

Thirty-eight resolutions are being voted on by members. Thirty can make it to the floor debates.

At least one resolution will come out of each province, and the possible resolution on a fixed link for Newfoundland and Labrador was put forward for a shot at national debate by the Long Range Mountains federal district association.

Other resolutions from the province include promoting economic diversification in rural areas and planning for a local food supply, particularly in rural and remote communities.

Looking at the entire list, subjects range from taxation on feminine hygiene products, to rural telecommunications, to offshore tax havens.

Party members can vote on the party’s convention website.

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If a resolution is brought to the floor, passed and becomes party policy, it would likely find a place in the Liberals’ framework heading into the 2019 election.

Gudie Hutchings is the MP for the riding of Long Range Mountains — one that includes both a port for the Strait of Belle Isle ferry run, and the tip of the Northern Peninsula, the narrowest part of the gap between the island and Labrador.

Hutchings
Hutchings

In her riding, a fixed link is a common topic of conversation. It’s even more so, she said, when ferry crossings and flights are interrupted by weather.

Hutchings said she would love to see the party support a fixed link. She believes it to be technically and financially feasible.

“I’m a Liberal and I’m proud to support that one, and what that can do in changing the whole demographics of not only my riding but of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Quebec north shore, and for people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It’s phenomenal,” she said, promoting the new “circle route” tourists would have in the country’s eastern region.

The cost would be part of what would have to be further explored.

“There’s so many different avenues that this could take. We have our infrastructure bank, there’s public-private partnerships. You know, this isn’t government writing a cheque,” she said, pointing to the partnership that built the Confederation Bridge for Prince Edward Island’s connection to mainland Canada.

That bridge cost about $1 billion.

Proponents of a Newfoundland link, including former MHA Danny Dumaresque, have spoken about changes in engineering and project management from even when the province took a look at the idea in 2004-05, under the former Progressive Conservative government.

If the Liberal resolution succeeds, it still doesn’t guarantee the infrastructure project, but it gives the link idea some attention.

A fixed link — bridge, causeway or tunnel — would have to span the Strait of Belle Isle, running about 17 kilometres, making provisions for icebergs and sea states as required.

By comparison, the Confederation Bridge is 12.9 kilometres.

There are longer transportation links in the world. The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China carries trains 164.8 kilometres, the King Fahd Causeway runs 25 kilometres between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway spans 38.3 kilometres in Louisiana.

Norway is often pointed to as the leader in subsea roadways. The Karmoy tunnel in Norway, the country’s longest subsea road, runs 8.9 kilometres.

Liberal resolution on connecting Canadians via a fixed link

Whereas:

· the Island of Newfoundland depends on ferry service for access to goods and services and travel for visitors to or from the Island;

· weather and ice can lead and has led to significant delays;

· mechanical problems with aging ferry fleets can lead and has led to significant delay;

· such delays cause expensive disruptions to businesses, communities, individuals, and governments, and can increase the cost of goods, including food;

· Prince Edward Island was connected to mainland Canada two decades ago;

· technology has advanced significantly, as evidenced by recent construction of long-distance subsea tunnels in Norway;

· providing a fixed link between the Island of Newfoundland would better connect the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and all Canadians;

· construction of such a project would be a major economic stimulus;

· such a link would provide ongoing benefits to N.L. and other provinces along the transit route (e.g., Quebec) from more reliable transportation alternatives and the potential for increased tourism.

Be it resolved, the Liberal Party of Canada call on the Government of Canada to:

· fully document the feasibility of such a fixed link, including the attendant economic benefits arising therefrom to the province, the region, and the country, and seek proposals for construction of a fixed link;

· consider all possible funding options, including public-private partnerships, tolls and direct funding, to achieve this goal.

RELATED LINK:
Liberal Party of Canada: Convention 2018

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