POLITICS

Nova Scotia says it will support Cape Breton roads plan if Ottawa does

04/23/2013 01:15 EDT | Updated 06/23/2013 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - A $300-million capital plan to repair crumbling roads and bridges in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has won support, but no money yet from the Nova Scotia government.

The province said Tuesday that it would provide support for Mayor Cecil Clarke's five-year plan, but only after Ottawa does first.

Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell said in a news release he had sent a letter to Clarke expressing support.

Clarke wants the federal government to pay 50 per cent of the municipality's plan with the province and the municipality each paying 25 per cent or $75 million.

Over the weekend, Defence Minister and Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay said it would be difficult to quantify Ottawa's involvement until the provincial government made a commitment to the plan.

There was no funding commitment included in the provincial budget tabled earlier this month.

Deputy Premier Frank Corbett was careful to say there is no offer of money from the province yet.

He said that while the existing funding arrangement for municipal infrastructure projects calls for a third of the cost from each level of government, Nova Scotia is open to the proposed change.

"We support the concept," said Corbett. "If the feds approve it . . . it would mean at the end of the day less money that we'd have to pay."

Corbett said further discussions would be held with Clarke, who is visiting with the three party caucuses in Halifax on Wednesday.

Clarke later issued a news release applauding the provincial government's show of support, calling it a critical next step.

"I am looking forward to partnering with Minister MacDonell to present a common, co-operative approach to the federal government in Ottawa," said Clarke.

During a technical briefing last week the municipality listed 462 roads needing $100 million worth of work.