Prime Minister announces up to $86.5 million for Halifax expressway

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced up to $86.5-million to improve an expressway into Halifax, predicting the work will make commutes safer and swifter.

Trudeau said Thursday the federal money would help extend the Highway 107 Burnside Connector and build a high-speed bypass to connect Highways 101, 102, and 118.

Dartmouth's Akerley and Burnside is the terminus of Nova Scotia's Highway 107, which is now set to be expanded. Photo by Verne Equinox via Wikimedia Commons.
Dartmouth’s Akerley and Burnside is the terminus of Nova Scotia’s Highway 107, which is now set to be expanded. Photo by Verne Equinox via Wikimedia Commons.

“We know that families are going to get to work and back home quicker because of this investment,” the prime minister said.

“We know that moving forward on something that’s been talked about for so many decades . . . is something that a lot of families around here have been waiting for.”

The federal money from the Building Canada Fund is in addition to $107-million announced by the province, while the Halifax Regional Municipality will provide the remainder.

Later on Thursday, Trudeau is expected to take part in a tour of historical exhibits at the Black Cultural Centre in the community of Cherry Brook.

He is also to meet with a youth group before delivering a speech in recognition of black history. It’s expected Trudeau would also extend a personal apology to those who were part of a group that were singled out in an apparent case of racial profiling during a visit to Parliament Hill earlier this month.

The incident took place during an event called Black Voices on the Hill, prompting a complaint to the Speaker from Liberal MP Greg Fergus.

The Federation of Black Canadians said several participants in the lobbying event were referred to as “dark-skinned people” and asked to leave a parliamentary cafeteria.

The Parliamentary Protective Service apologized at the time and said the force was investigating the incident.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, Speaker Geoff Regan called the service’s apology a welcome first step, but said it shouldn’t be seen as closing the issue or as a way to erase the harsh and unacceptable reality of what happened.

“What was reported as happening was completely unacceptable,” Trudeau said Thursday. “The Parliament Buildings belong to all Canadians and the opportunity to access them freely in a moment . . . of celebration of Black History Month should not have been tarnished by these actions that we’ve heard about.”

Trudeau said he was looking forward to meeting with the group.

“We all have a responsibility as parliamentarians as Canadians to ensure that everyone is fully welcome everywhere in this country,” he said.

“We have to recognize unfortunately that there are still barriers, there is still systemic racism in this country — anti-black racism that can rear its head at surprising and unfortunate times and we need to make sure that we are responding appropriately.”

Trudeau began his visit by attending a vigil Wednesday night for a Syrian family that lost seven children in a house fire earlier in the week, before attending a fundraising gathering of Liberal donors at a Halifax hotel.

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