Dodging on Cornwall Bypass hearings by MacLauchlan Liberals unacceptable

Charlottetown  – Ongoing dodging of a Legislative Standing Committee by the MacLauchlan Liberals is unacceptable, says Opposition Leader Jamie Fox.

Fox was commenting about ongoing efforts by the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Energy to secure a briefing on the proposed $65 million Cornwall Bypass project from the Department of Transportation. Fox wrote the Standing Committee in early July requesting the briefing which was agreed to unanimously by the all party committee. Department staff originally committed to a presentation on September 1 but later reversed course, saying that there wasn’t enough project information finalized to give a briefing to MLA’s.

“This secretive dodging by the MacLauchlan Liberals is unacceptable from a government trying to sell itself as open, transparent and accountable. This is anything but. The committee has been more than patient about this simple request. Now we’ve learned that department staff were told that no one will be available until late September or early October, several weeks after construction begins and after a public information session is held on September 13th. How can there not be enough details to brief MLA’s but enough to hold a public information session?” questions Fox.

Tenders for Phase 1 of the Cornwall Bypass closed on August 25th with construction scheduled to begin on September 6th. The $5.5 million Phase 1 involves construction of two roundabouts on the Trans-Canada Highway at the Maypoint Road intersection and at the Poplar Island intersection of the North River causeway.

“This $65 million project hasn’t had a dollar approved for it by the Legislature in either the capital or operating budgets and didn’t warrant a mention in the last two Throne Speeches from government. I fail to understand why there’s so much secrecy around this project that warrants political interference in the business of legislative committees doing their job,” says Morell-Mermaid MLA and committee member Sidney MacEwen.

A timeline of events is below.

Cornwall Bypass Timeline

June 28: $65 million project announced.July 6: Opposition Leader Jamie Fox writes the Standing Committee, requesting an information briefing on the project.

July 28: Phase 1 of the project goes to tender.

August 1: Committee approves request unanimously and suggests a meeting take place before end of August.

August 5: Committee requests briefing from department before end of August.

August 9: Federal/provincial funding announced for Phase 1 of the project.

August 11: Department staff respond that they are unable to present to committee before late September.

August 16: Department confirms presentation date of September 1.

August 23: Open house on project held by department.

August 24: Standing Committee is advised by department staff that after consulting with senior management that the project information is incomplete and department unable to meet until late September/early October at soonest.

August 25: Tender on Phase 1 closes.

August 30: Department announces that Phase 2 route is finalized and schedules two private, by invitation only, and one public information session on Phase 2 of the project for early to mid September.

September 1: Construction start date of September 6 announced for Phase 1 of the project.

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