25 June 2009

And then there’s announcing money you haven’t even got…

That CBS bypass road extension seems to be a field of political landmines for Tories.

Not only did Fabian Manning blow off some bits of his political anatomy with promises for money that wasn’t approved, Manning’s former caucus mates seem to have spoken a wee bit out of turn as well.

In December 2007, Manning and federal cabinet representative Loyola Hearn talked about a federal transportation initiative that would cost-share some roads work with the province.

On January 10, 2008 a news release appeared issued by provincial transport minister Diane Whelan announced “$182 million in road improvements, the largest such funding in the province’s history.”  The release covered a raft of cost-shared projects involving the provincial and federal governments.

Included in the list of projects was – you guessed it - “$3.5 million for Conception Bay South (CBS) By-Pass Road Extension.”

According to a Telegram story this week (not online) on the whole mess:

But a provincial news release from January 2008 commits $3.5 million for the extension, and the letter from Baird confirms the province applied for the matching funds in September of that year.

Announced in January but no one applied for the funds until nine months later?

And then the funds weren’t approved until June 2009?


It’s one thing to criticise someone else for announcing  projects time and time again over the span of several years, but what would you call it when your own government announces money it doesn’t even have and knows it doesn’t have because they hadn’t applied for it yet?


For Everything There is a Season Update:  Hearn announced on or about December 18, 2007.

So did Diane Whelan, on December 18, 2007, almost a month before her January “for the first time ever” stroke-fest. 

In the release that coincided with Hearn’s, Whelan  announced that “planning is currently underway to identify further infrastructure priorities to be funded under the recently signed Federal-Provincial Infrastructure Framework Agreement.”

"We will be consulting with municipalities and other Provincial Government departments to identify infrastructure projects to be funded under this agreement, and we intend to start spending this spring." said Minister Whalen.

Minister Whelan says that while she is pleased the Federal Government agreed yesterday to cost-share hard-surfacing of the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH), improve the Argentia Access Road and extend the Conception Bay South (C.B.S.) By-Pass, she is requesting the Federal Government be ready to move the projects forward in the spring.

[Emphasis added]

So the planning was so good that while they intended “to start spending this spring”, the provincial transportation department didn’t even apply for funding until September 2008.

September would be the fall of 2008, for those noting the passing of the seasons.

And even then the project wasn’t approved by the feds until June, 2009.  That would be the second summer after the announcement and the second spring after.

Even if the tender is awarded sometime before September 2009 – tick tock, tick tock -  it’s going to be tough to get things geared up before next spring.

That would be more than two full years and the third spring after the thing was supposed to start.

Oh yes, while we are on the subject of planning, let’s all recall the words of Trevor Taylor - Whelan’s successor – a couple of weeks ago:

We had been proactive and our sound strategic planning allowed us to move forward with a series of significant projects very smoothly.

Proactive is a hideous corruption of a word but it is generally taken to mean getting things done in a timely way. 

Applying for cash ten months after an announcement would be pretty much the opposite of proactive.

And making an announcement without cash doesn’t suggest there is very much of anything that looks like planning, let alone planning that is strategic and definitely not planning that is both strategic and sound.

Then again, half the projects Taylor was talking about a couple of weeks ago  were old. 

Some of them dated back to 2005.

At least another one – besides the CBS bypass – was promised in 2007 with completion in 2009.

It just went to tender.

And those old projects had been announced time and time again.