"We are certainly going to work with the community and hopefully the new owners of the Donkin mine to make sure that the highway is in top quality shape for when the assumed increase of traffic takes place," said Geoff MacLellan, minister of transportation and infrastructural renewal.
"We are going to make that commitment to Cape Bretoners, to those in the area of Donkin and surrounding communities and all Nova Scotians. It's going to be a good economic development piece for us. It's an important step for going to support the infrastructure needs in every way that we can."
Morien Resources Corp. announced Monday it has waived its Right of First Refusal with respect to the proposed sale by Glencore of its 75 per cent interest in the Donkin Coal Project, leaving the door open for the US-based company, The Cline Group, to purchase it. As the news broke, local politicians, including Alfie MacLeod, MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg,and community leaders called on the provincial government to honour previous commitments to fix the road.
“I’d like to see the Liberals make the safety and convenience of the roadway leading into and out of the mine a priority,” MacLeod said. “There are numerous other safety precautions the government must see to, including building solid infrastructure and technical and operational mine safety.”
MacLeod said he has worked on the rejuvenation of Donkin Mine for years and hopes the provincial government undertakes the necessary due diligence to ensure the re-opening of the mine is handled in a competent manner.
Hugh Kennedy, chair of the Donkin Mine Citizens' Liaison Committee, also stated the previous governments had agreed to put in a new highway for the mine.
"It's hoped this government will follow through on that promise."
He said as well it was agreed by previous governments to put in a paved multi-use path to Dearn's corner.
"The idea is, with the increased truck traffic and that sort of thing, to keep the kids off the road."
Kennedy said he negotiated that with the conservative government in about 2006 and then the NDP government agreed to do the same if the project went ahead.
He said originally they had asked for a sidewalk but then remembered you're not suppose to drive a bicycle on a sidewalk.
"We wanted the kids off the road so change it to a multi-use paved path. So they agreed with that."
MacLellan said through his understanding, there's nothing formal within the department with respect to this road with commitments from previous governments.
"However that's irrelevant as far as I'm concerned, for myself and for the premier and for our government, we understand the requirements to enhance the strength and the quality of the Donkin highway. We're going to do whatever is required to ensure the infrastructure can handle the traffic," he added.
"There's no formal agreement to honour, but we're going to do it because it's necessary and the right thing to do."
MacLellan said they’re going to have their engineers out testing and evaluating the road to see what they can do to enhance the infrastructure.
MacLellan said he wasn’t familiar with the multi-use path idea, but said their department will have discussions with the municipality.
"We've had a great relationship with the CBRM on other multi use paths and active transportation infrastructure - that will be a conversation I look forward to with council and the senior staff at the CBRM," he said.
Dist. 8 coun. Kevin Saccary said as a taxpayer, he has personally taken up a petition in the past and taken it to ministers of the two previous governments.
"Nothing was ever done."
Saccary said Geoff MacLellan came to his home and he drove the minister around on the No. 6 Mines road and showed him the condition.
"He's a man of his word and he followed up on that. "Geoff MacLellan and Premier Stephen McNeil certainly get accolades from me," he said.
"I believe Minister MacLellan will certainly receive accolades from residents on this road from residents of Port Morien to Glace Bay."