At a recent Board of Directors meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, the Board reiterated their stand against road and marine tolls in our region. The discussion came up in the wake of a resolution that was passed by the directors to support the recent initiative to remove tolls from the Saint John Harbour Bridge.
Peter Nelson, Executive Director of the APTA had this to say on the topic; ‘The APTA continues to support the removal of tolls from all six toll points in Atlantic Canada. We would ask that the affected municipalities, elected provincial and federal representatives meet immediately to discuss this issue. The removal of tolls from the Saint John Harbour Bridge should be the starting point for the removal of all tolls in Atlantic Canada.”
The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association continues to point out that the existing toll points are either located as part of the Trans Canada Highway System or an arterial thereof and should be recognized as a part of the Trans Canada Highway. The APTA represents over 10,000 trucks engaged in the movement of freight throughout the region. Each long haul truck pays in the range of $50,000.00 to $60,000.00 per year in on road taxes. The six toll points as identified by the APTA are the Saint John Harbour Bridge (New Brunswick) the Saint John-Digby ferry (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia), the Confederation Bridge (PEI), The Cobequid Pass and Halifax/Dartmouth bridges (Nova Scotia) and the Marine Atlantic ferry ( Nova Scotia and Newfoundland).
Nelson stated, ‘The rising costs of tolls are yet another impediment to regional, national and international trade. It adds transportation costs to our dwindling exports and increases the costs of our imports. It was recently noted in the media that food prices continue to rise and that is particularly true in our region where we are faced with some of the highest food prices in the country. The toll points are becoming choke points for trade in our region. Atlantic Canadians see no tangible benefits from the present tolling systems throughout our region, this is especially the case in Newfoundland where service has declined to the point that store shelves are empty of many products and hospitals have low supplies or no supply of certain medical products. We witnessed commercial and passenger vehicles stranded on the Cobequid Pass this winter and in spite of tolls there does not seem to be enough money to refurbish the Saint John Harbour Bridge.”
Nelson closed by commenting; ‘The time has come to end regressive tolls. Our region needs to reposition itself to emerge out of the present downturn as a place that is conducive to commerce and trade. There will be demand in the future for our value added forestry products and we must stabilize and reduce transportation costs in Atlantic Canada to build on that potential. We are suffering under the weight of a massive freight imbalance at present. This region imports far more products than it exports. Trucks are leaving here empty to pick up the consumer goods and food our region needs to survive. The tolls only further pile on transportation costs to this already expensive circumstance we finds ourselves in.”