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Commentary
Ill-conceived toll plan doomed from the start

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Politicians and ill-conceived, poorly thought out plans are rarely parted. Case in point Cumberland Coun. Stephen Blais and his plan to charge out-of-town commuters a toll for using Hwy. 174.

While he no doubt means well enough in his desire to develop an alternative source of funding to help pay for the roadway's ongoing maintenance, the idea of introducing an electronic toll at Canaan Road is fraught with potential pitfalls, not the least of which is the hundreds if not thousands of cars that would search out alternative routes into the city.

Old Montreal Road, Innes Road and St. Joseph Blvd. would see huge spikes in traffic. If nothing else it would at least help businesses along all three routes.

Blais seems to think that his toll idea is supported by a majority of Orléans residents who are tired of sitting in traffic every day. I find that hard to believe especially when those same Orléans residents end up stuck in traffic on Old Montreal Road, St. Joseph Blvd. and Innes Road.

But not to worry, because the idea will never get past council. And even if it did, the province will never go for it.

In reality the plan is little more than a headline grabber meant to show people that he is trying to fix a problem without actually fixing it.

Instead of floating a plan that has no chance of going anywhere, the good folks at City Hall should focus on ideas that do make sense and can be implemented tomorrow such as charging out-of-town residents a fee for using our park-and-ride lots.

In the past the idea has been dismissed because the big thinkers at City Hall are convinced that if you charge out-of-town residents a fee for using the park-and-ride lots they will stay in their cars rather than use OC Transpo.

What they fail to realize is that even if they're charged a fee the out-of-towners will continue to use the lots in order to avoid the cost of gas and downtown parking lots. You don't have to charge a lot, just charge enough.

It's not as if you couldn't find out the origin of the vehicles by checking their license plates.

Blais wants to charge out-of-town residents $5 a trip or $400 a month for using Hwy. 174, assuming you charge them for going home as well as getting to work. Two hundred a month if you only charge them once.

It makes a lot more sense and is much more doable to charge them $80 a month to use the Trim Road park and ride lot. You could do the same for every park and ride lot in the city.

Unfortunately it makes way too much sense, which means it will never get passed by the folks at City Hall who would much rather appear to be fixing a problem than actually fix it.

(Posted 11:30 a.m., June 1)

 

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