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Letter: Our struggle for paved roads continues

Once again, I feel compelled to express disappointment and frustration with the Liberal government’s neglect of our area. Both gravel roads in this section of Placentia-St. Mary’s are a disgrace. It’s obvious we have been forgotten.

The government is not listening. Our needs are no longer being prioritized, as they were at election time. What happened to the promise of all regions being treated fairly? Obviously, much more care and consideration is being devoted to larger centres while smaller towns are being ignored. The glaring and ugly truth is that our significance is measured by numbers of votes. Such unfairness should not be tolerated and is an insult to the democratic process.

In numerous letters I have written to the government, I’ve emphasized the importance of two gravel roads in the St. Mary’s Bay section of the district. If paved, the road between Colinet and Argentia, and the road from Colinet to Whitbourne, would provide much needed employment opportunities at Come By Chance, Long Harbour and Bull Arm, and would lead to increased tourism, business opportunities and improved access to medical, educational and other services.

The previous government deserves recognition for their commitment to our district. Our previous MHA, Felix Collins, worked tirelessly on our behalf, listening to our concerns and responding to our needs by prioritizing those two gravel roads. It was a sad day in our district two years ago when the PC government was defeated, at which point the roads I’m referring to had been upgraded to over 90 per cent completion. The election of the Liberals marked the death of our road project. (Was it election day when construction was halted, or the day after, I wonder?)

I can’t contain my outrage at the blatant disregard for the needs of the people in my area, not to mention the irresponsible waste of taxpayers’ money. Our 90-per-cent-completed gravel roads have been left to deteriorate, slowly eroding before our eyes as the impacts of weather, ongoing traffic and disgusting Liberal neglect combine to take their toll.
Why, Liberal government, with so much work already completed, did you decide not to finish our roads? If you had completed the work in the best interests of the people of Placentia-St. Mary’s, you would have earned our respect.

In a 2016 news release, then Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins identified a number of bridges which were unsafe and in need of replacement or repair. The bridge at the Cataracts, between Colinet and Southeast Placentia, was reportedly on the priority list. It spans a very deep gorge and poses a significant threat to the safety of anyone who drives this route. A more recent news release from the minister’s office regarding bridges scheduled for replacement or repair contained no mention of Cataracts Bridge. The fact it is being left in a dangerous state is further evidence of the Liberal government’s lack of commitment to the people of Placentia-St. Mary’s.
We would appreciate hearing what our MHA, Service NL Minister Sherry Gambin Walsh, has to say. Hopefully, she is lobbying hard, voicing our concerns and fighting for our needs. She should report to us on how this government plans to improve the present situation. We would also welcome a response from Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker. We deserve to be informed!

We hope they will not hide behind the “lack of finances” excuse, because that one has been worn out. For years we accepted that the government was waiting for more prosperous times. Well, prosperity in recent years didn’t change anything!

The roadwork that remains to be done in Placentia-St. Mary’s is urgent and must be prioritized. We all know that when it comes to finances, where there is a will there is a way. The proof is all around us — government’s response to the ballooning costs of Muskrat Falls is just one example. Additional money can always be found, when needed.
Let’s face it, budget overruns are common in our province and can be tolerated when people’s safety and/or quality of life is at risk. The blatant disregard of our basic needs is morally wrong and unacceptable.

 

Bill Davis
Colinet

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