Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie was a little surprised to find there was no money in this year’s capital budget for building lobster cold storage facilities.
The veteran MLA, a fisher before he entered politics, says it was his understanding a unit was being built in the western part of P.E.I. Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac confirmed there were discussions about cold storage, but “I haven’t got the specifics on exactly where they are.”
He says there was a request for proposals put out by the province seeking interest in building such units around the island. McIsaac says his department is still working out the details of how government will support any requests financially, but “it will not be a capital issue.”
Finance Minister Allen Roach agrees, saying while the province may support construction with a loan or a grant, any building would not be government-owned and “the capital budget only pertains to assets that are owned by Island taxpayers.”
Roach says he told LaVie the province was never approached to build a government-owned facility in western P.E.I.
Kensington-Malpeque MLA Matthew MacKay questions if any money has ever been allocated in the capital budget in the past, or if it might be in the future, for dredging on Prince Edward Island. McIsaac says dredging has always been a federal issue, although the province does make recommendations along with industry groups.
MacKay says he talked to a number of fishers in Malpeque Harbour and, “Their concern is that if something doesn’t happen in the near future, somebody’s going to be seriously injured or potentially killed. They don’t seem to be having any luck getting that rectified out there.”
McIsaac says the issue has been raised several times, but MacKay wants to know about the possibility of purchasing a dredger that could go from harbour to harbour across the province. The fisheries minister says he isn’t aware of any discussion along that line.
“Depending on the year, the need for dredging seems to be greater in some than others, but there are some areas that need to be cleaned out on a fairly regular basis,” McIsaac says.
MacKay says he visited the port of French River recently and “the federal government did a beautiful upgrade to part of it, and the other part is in rough shape. But when I was walking across the wharf, there was a pothole of a couple of feet that I near got my leg into, so would that be something the provincial government would ever look at doing, along with the transportation crew in the summer to check?”