La Scie Mayor Paul Toms says the sparring in the House of Assembly yesterday between Liberal MHA Tom Osbourne and transportation minister Nick McGrath didn’t reveal any new information to him about the proposed work for Route 414 leading to his community.
Toms says he was informed by MHA Kevin Pollard a couple of days after the initial announcement, that the nearly 10km of roadwork that was going to tender could take two years, and may not be completed until 2015.
“I didn’t know about it when (Premier Tom Marshall) announced it that day in Fleur de Lys,” he told the Nor’Wester, referring to the announcement in March, “but the MHA told me, probably two days later, that it was possible that it would take two years to do it.”
From Mayor Toms perspective, the Opposition is just being “political” and trying “ discredit a good-news announcement.
“We’re getting our road paved, regardless,” he said. “Yes, it might take two years, but at least we know we’re going to get it done; that’s still music to my ears. I’m not going to take part in any kind of political propaganda the Opposition is trying to get going. You can draw more bees with honey than vinegar.”
Liberal Opposition Transportation and Works critic, Tom Osbourne, accused the government of giving residents of Fleur de Lys and LaScie false hope. During Question Period in the House of Assembly on Thursday, he said the government was leading residents to believe the announced road work would be all done in one year.
“They promised 12 kilometres this year. They're only paying for four kilometres," Osborne said about the work for Route 410. "It doesn't add up."
Outside the House, Osbourne provided copies of the tender documents to the media, which contained an Addendum that specified only $2.25 million would be spent on Route 410 and 414 this year and any extra work done would be paid for in the 2015 fiscal year.
According to transportation minister McGrath the reason the projects announced earlier could take numerous years is because of the government’s new strategy of announcing major projects over multi-years, in an effort to give contracting companies an opportunity to bid and ensure there’s work in following years.
"They know ahead of time that they have the work which gives them an opportunity to retain the employees they have," McGrath told reporters at Confederation Building on Thursday. "It's good for the contractor, it's good for the government, and, most importantly, it's good for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."
Toms says he understands where the province is coming from.
“We all have to work together,” he said. “They can’t put out tenders that just benefit the towns – the companies and the government have to be able to handle this as well.”
While he wishes all the work would be done in one year, he says he knows that’s not going to happen.
“The main thing is we know it’s going to be done by next year, so I’m happy with that,” he said.