INVERNESS, NS – Progressive Conservative Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster says an announcement today shows the McNeil government is finally admitting its neglect of rural roads over the past four years was a mistake.
The government announced the creation of a “Gravel Road Capital Program” which it says will invest $10 million on rebuilding roads.
“The new gravel road budget is $10 million, but over the past four years, the McNeil government spent about $6 million less each year through the Rural Impact Mitigation (RIM) rural road maintenance budget,” says MacMaster. “They took away over $20 million in ditching, brush cutting, and graveling work, and now on the eve of an election, they are promising half of it back to us.”
Maintenance budgets for rural roads have been decreased since 2008-09. MacMaster says when adjusted for inflation, the budget should be over $22 million to equal what was spent at that time, but the McNeil government has been spending only about $16 million each year.
“Because of the RIM cut, we have only received three years-worth of road maintenance over the four years of the McNeil government,” says MacMaster. “Maintenance was ignored and it means more costly work is now needed to restore these roads.”
In October 2014, MacMaster introduced a resolution asking all MLAs to restore the road maintenance budget. Members of the McNeil caucus voted against it.
“The election will be here soon,” says MacMaster. “It is time to let voters decide whether the McNeil government cared enough to look after our rural roads when communities needed it, not just at election time.”