The Ministry of Truth
Funding for TLH - Apr 3, 2007
Federal cabinet minister Loyola Hearn has announced a chunk of money which he says can be used for the Trans Labrador Highway. A new infrastructure fund gives the province 175 million dollars over the next seven years. Hearn says Transportation Minister John Hickey has fought hard for funding for the TLH. Hearn says unlike other programs, this fund has no strings attached.
Labrador City Mayor Graham Letto says the funding for the Trans Labrador Highway has been a long time coming. Letto says there has been a lot of lobbying for improvements to the highway.
Transportation Minister John Hickey has welcomed the new 7 year, 175 million dollar federal infrastructure fund for the province. Hickey says department officials will be talking to their counterparts in Ottawa over the next few days to work out the details. He says it would take an estimated 3 hundred million dollars to complete the Trans Labrador Highway, but the provincial government remains committed to accomplishing that. Meanwhile, local officials are heralding it as a "new day" for Labrador. Wabush Mayor Jim Farrell says $100 million - half from the province and half from the feds - should be enough to hard-surface the road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West.
Most interesting. But, like any good answer, it raises some more good questions.
The "7 year, 175 million dollar federal infrastructure fund" is the baseline of $25-million, per province and territory, per year, as the federal budget puts it, "to support investment in national priorities throughout the country, such as trade-related infrastructure like gateways, roads, highways and other transportation facilities."
According to provincial transport Minister John Hickey, in the Aurora of October 2, 2006, the province "wants the federal government to throw in $100 million over five years, with the first $20 million ready for the 2007 construction season. ".Question 1:
Is the province prepared to put 80% of its annual $25-million HappyMoney into the TLH, leaving only $5-million per year for everything else that might have designs on the funds? Because if they're not, good on Loyola for calling their bluff.
Just last month, the province was rattling sabres on the TLH file. Minister Hickey told the House of Assembly
that the provincial government "will complete the Trans-Labrador Highway with or without the federal government."Question 2:
If the province was, and is, truly prepared to spend $50-million "with or without" the federal government, and if the province is willing to take Loyola up on his offer to use the $25-million annual funding for the TLH... then why wouldn't the province put in the full $50-million anyway? Or was John Hickey not being truthy when he said "with or without"? If not, good on Loyola for calling their bluff.
Stephen Harper's now-famous letter to Danny Williams
promised "Conservative government would support a cost-shared agreement to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway".
Jim Farrell says "$100 million - half from the province and half from the feds - should be enough to hard-surface the road from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to Labrador West."
John Hickey says "it would take an estimated 3 hundred million dollars to complete the Trans Labrador Highway..."
Loyola Hearn is offering up the $175-million, 7-year infrastructure fund as its contribution towards completing the TLH.
And in the Telegram
today, Tara Mullowney reports "This province's share of the money - $25 million a year for seven years - may be used to help fund the $50-million Trans-Labrador Highway completion, [Hearn] said.
The Trans-Labrador Highway extends all the way from Labrador City, through, not just to, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to the south coast and the Labrador Straits. A portion of the highway in the middle, Phase III, is still not even completed.Question 3:
Does $50-million worth of pavement, on Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway alone (Labrador West to Happy Valley-Goose Bay) constitute "complet[ion of] the Trans-Labrador Highway" in Loyola Hearn's eyes? In John Hickey's?Question 4:
If the completion of the TLH is estimated at $300-million, even if the province were to devote all of the $175-million, 7-year fund to the TLH, does this not still leave "completion" $125-million short?
According to the same Tara Mullowney piece in the Telegram, "[Loyola Hearn] credits provincial Transportation and Works Minister John Hickey, who is also the minister responsible for Labrador Affairs, for working with him on this and other projects
, some of which will be announced shortly, he said."Question 5:
Which "other projects"? Are these "other projects" also claimants to the $25-million/year, 7-year funding? If so, how much does that leave for the TLH?Question 6:
Where does this "$300-million" figure come from anyway? Given that Minister Hickey, according to this week's Labradorian
, says the TLH has to be widened before it can be "hard topped" — whatever that means — doesn't $300-million, to complete the Trans-Labrador Highway, all of it
, seem a little optimistic?