To the editor:
Nova Scotia has a long history of squandering tax money on misguided projects from the $60 million spent on the Daewoo Wind Power Plant to $3 billion spent on Sydney Steel.
Another such proposal is presently being advocated by a candidate for the leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Nova Scotia.
Cecil Clarke is proposing provincial tax money be spent on the dilapidated section of rail from Havre Boucher to Sydney. Nova Scotia taxpayers are presently paying $60,000 per month so that the owner of this section of line will not remove old, obsolete steel rail, cross ties and bridges from the roadbed. The total amount for this was $ 750,000 to the spring of 2018 and it continues. This section of line has been inoperative for years and should have been removed long ago. It has 268 curves that are serious safety hazards for long unit trains.
The Grand Narrows Bridge is an example. This bridge at Iona was opened by Lord Stanley – of Stanley Cup fame – in 1890.
Concrete is flaking off the abutments, bolts and rivets are rusted to dust and height restrictions on the bridge preclude double-stack trains from passing over it. Washouts are present on the line.
It has been suggested $100 million would make the line operative. This number is vastly understated. No business case exists! This does not include upgrading the line to Truro or eliminating 268 curves.
Advocates of rendering this line operative suggest that ice-infested Sydney Harbour would handle the largest container ships presently afloat, not withstanding it has no container terminal and there is no turning radius for large ships in Sydney harbour. It is also located on ice–infested Cabot Strait that precludes ferries operating from North Sydney during certain days of the year. The ferry service is subsidized by more than $130 million annually.
Large, costly container ships in the $100-million range will not find this prospect acceptable.
The rail line would have to be upgraded back to the main line at Truro in order to allow container trains to access the section beyond Havre Boucher.
Also, consider the prospect of running three-mile-long double-stacked trains through downtown New Glasgow on a daily basis where the rail line arcs toward the main business district.
This prospect is ridiculed by shipping people, yet some politicians and bureaucrats continue to make hay from it at taxpayers’ expense even to the point of granting a 99-year lease on real estate in the area to foreign-based companies with questionable backgrounds. One of the “partners,” CCCC International Holdings, was recently refused permission to buy AECON as it is contrary to Canada’s national interest. On June 25, 2018 the New York Times outlined a scandal involving this company in Sri Lanka which has remarkable similarities to the Sydney proposal including a 99-year lease.
In summary, no further taxpayer money should be invested in this program.