I’ve hesitated writing about Plan B for a long time wanting to stay well clear of a political statement but as the heavy machinery begin to push their way through the hills and trees of Bonshaw, this very controversial project continues to be daily news since it originally surfaced almost a year ago. Plan B is the name labeled to the questionable 6km realignment of the TransCanada highway at the expense of home owners being expropriated, 15-20 million in tax dollars and the destruction of trees, ravines and streams that will require 140,000 truckloads of shale to fill. The media coverage and protest signs to Stop Plan B appear to be everywhere, and rightfully so.
But my biggest interest in the story has been the fact that I don’t know anyone arguing in favour of this project except for the elected government — who happens to be on a deadline to spend federal money. You are either in the group strongly against the highway or you are part of the group with no opinion. Daily letters to the editor ranging from large organizations like the Island Nature Trust down to individual artists leaves me the impression that we have:
- Those wanting to protect the old growth trees and preserve the few remaining undeveloped areas.
- Those that think this is a waste of money and only happening because of federal funding.
- Those that have accepted the governments push forward and are now simply annoyed with the protesters keeping it in the media headlines.
- and Those that never did have an opinion on the ‘need’ for a new highway in the first place.
Earlier today, CBC Island Morning had a 45 minute Q&A period with the minister of transportation and a lead protester. The answers provided did a pretty good job of summarizing the views from both sides. You can listen to that here.
Protesting can be sketchy. I can’t help but think the resulting groups are mostly assembled by parties only wanting to make noise who nobody listens to but after following the events fairly close with interest, I’m slowly changing my opinions. Although I’m not participating at ‘ground zero’, I do have some respect and support for the 200+ protesters and the individuals who setup camp between the trees and the machinery moving forward.
However, it’s a dark rainy Friday night here on PEI and during the same time our premier went live on CBC Mainstreet at 5pm, the RCMP was ordered to move in on the camp, remove the protesters and make way for the falling trees. This story now changes to how Plan B will progress, what mistakes were and will be made, and what unexpected damage will result in this decision. Promises are made to be broken and I have a feeling this is just getting started.
Above: The blue line represents the current highway classified to be dangerous. The yellow line was the short lived Plan A distraction bisecting the provincial park. The green line is Plan B and the current path of the bulldozers.
Below are two photos from the April 26th 2012 rally outside Province House where our premier politely listened with def ears and addressed the crowd by saying they would move forward regardless. I suppose I will at least give him credit for being honest.