©David Wells, Special to the Journal Pioneer
While a P.E.I. senator continues to push for Islanders to get a free pass across the fixed link, Confederation Bridge is heading in the other direction.
Confederation Bridge announced Monday that new tolls will go into effect Jan. 1.
Some tolls are unchanged, and others are going up by 25 cents or 50 cents.
The toll for two-axle vehicles will jump by 50 cents to $46 while motorcyclists will pay $18.50, up 25 cents.
The toll for two-axle vehicles was $35 when the bridge opened in 1997.
A contract with the federal government dictates allowable increases to tolls on the bridge.
"It's an inflation adjustment...it's basically to keep up,'' said Confederation Bridge GM Michel Le Chasseur.
"We do have to maintain (and) operate the bridge...this costs money.''
Island Senator Percy Downe is urging P.E.I.'s MLAs to pass a resolution during the next sitting of the legislature in support of his efforts to fight against Islanders paying tolls when crossing the Confederation Bridge to the mainland.
Downe recently took issue with the federal government that is living up to its election promise and will not charge tolls on Champlain Bridge in Montreal.
The bridge will be built with public money and cost roughly four times what it cost to complete Confederation Bridge.
Le Chasseur defends the toll against Islanders and dismisses Downe's argument that tolls are not going to be charged to cross the Champlain Bridge as comparing apples with oranges.
He says there have never been tolls to cross the old Champlain Bridge, but Islanders and others had to pay to cross the Northumberland Strait by ferry before the Confederation Bridge opened.
"It tells you that the situation is different here,'' says Le Chasseur.
"We are replacing a ferry (service) that had a toll.''
After reading this story, Downe called The Guardian to say that tolls were charged on Champlain Bridge until 1990.
Le Chasseur adds that if the toll was scrapped for Islanders crossing the Confederation Bridge, than there would be talk of taking the ferry for free as well.
"If you ask every Islander, they would say I prefer not to pay,'' he says.
Le Chasseur adds that any push to see the toll waived for Islanders must be directed to Ottawa.
"The question goes to the federal government and not us,'' he says.
"We are under contract with the federal government to operate the bridge.''