Dear Burnside News,
Re: Letters to the Editor, June 2012
I'm writing in response to a letter to the editor authored by Mr. Jerry Pye and published in last month's edition of the Burnside News. Mr. Pye wrote in regard to the Burnside Expressway that "The GBBA was calling for government to build the expressway and pay for it by tolls. They even enlisted the assistance of a government backbencher to speak in support of the idea." Mr. Pye's claims are not correct and I would appreciate an opportunity to respond on behalf of the GBBA Board of Directors.
I've served as either Chair of the Advocacy Committee or Chair of the GBBA for approximately the last five years. During this period of time the GBBA has not endorsed a position or advocated in favour of financing the Burnside Expressway with tolls, nor have we been contacted by Mr. Pye to determine the Association's position.
However, I have made additional inquiries with past GBBA chairs and board members and believe I know to what Mr. Pye may be referring. The GBBA has conducted monthly luncheons for many years and at some of these events attendees have been asked for their opinion on issues relevant to Burnside. At an event many years ago, one of the questions posed to attendees was whether they were in favour of the Expressway being constructed and whether they were in favour of implementing tolls if doing so would expedite completion of the project.
The results collected were slightly in favour of tolls being acceptable if they would expedite completion of the highway and the results were reported to those attending the luncheon. The GBBA simply conducted an informal poll at a luncheon more than five years ago which included, among other things, the question about the highway and tolls as described above. The GBBA didn't adopt a pro-toll position then, nor has it done so since.
In regard to Mr. Pye's second claim, our collective memory is that there was a local MLA in attendance at the luncheon described. The MLA apparently later spoke in the legislature to the effect that the Expressway should proceed and that the MLA was in favour of tolls if necessary to move the project forward. The MLA was not "enlisted" to express this or any other position on behalf of the GBBA.
The Burnside Expressway is a project which has been conceptualized and debated for several decades and appears finally ready to move toward reality. It represents a major infrastructure improvement that will help support the centre of industrial and commercial economic activity in the Atlantic region for decades to come, as well as the surrounding communities and thousands of people who travel here to work every day or pass through to other areas of HRM. The GBBA has certainly advocated in favour of the Expressway for many years and is pleased to have provided public forums for discussion and debate on this and other issues important to the Greater Burnside community. If anyone wishes to know the GBBA's position on the Expressway or any other matter I would invite them to contact us at 902-789-1855 or via email at info.greaterburnside.com.
GBBA - Chair