Creating the Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation was key to creating Cobequid Pass Toll Highway. The Government is the sole shareholder of the Corporation, which is categorized as a Government Business Enterprise. Its sole purpose, by statute, is to oversee the financing, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the Cobequid Pass.
The Corporation's mandate is to manage revenue collection, to maintain the schedule to repay investors, and to fund annual and long term maintenance until the debt is fully paid in 2026.
The Highway 104 Corporation is financially sustainable and responsible for its own debt, and does not have to rely on a Government debt guarantee.
Because some public monies were involved in the highways initial financing, and because the Highway 104 Corporation is wholly owned by the Crown, its annual operations may be scrutinized by the Auditor General.
Operating independent of government, the Highway 104 Corporation is the entity that permitted non-recourse financing, meaning private investors can lay no claim on government assets or money in the unlikely event toll revenue should fail to provide a return on investment.
One of the Corporation's primary administrative responsibilities is ensuring toll revenue is collected and distributed according to the agreements signed by the government of Nova Scotia, Atlantic Highway Corporation, and Newcourt Credit Group. The Bondholder's Representative is Canada Life.
This responsibility includes maintaining budget control, issuing payment directives, and ensuring that parties to the agreements are meeting obligations in timely fashion. It also means keeping communication lines open and direct between all parties.
The administration of Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation is led by its General Manager, Darren Blundon, and by the Controller, Vicki Clark, CPA, CMA. Patricia M. Belleza, PCP provides administrative and accounting support.
The financial activities of the Corporation are carefully scrutinized by Canada Life and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. In addition, the Corporation engages KPMG LLP to provide audit reports in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Detailed reports of the highway's operation are given to the Deputy Minister of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal on a monthly basis, and he in turn informs the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal as the owner. The Minister is well equipped to respond to questions from the public, Cabinet, Members of the Legislative Assembly, and the media, as is the Corporation's General Manager.
The Auditor General of Nova Scotia has the right to review the Highway 104 Corporation's activities as it did in 1996 and 2002.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal provides maintenance on the Cobequid Pass Toll Highway under the terms of the Annual Maintenance Agreement. The majority of this work consists of snow and ice removal during the winter months. The Department also performs annual line painting, guardrail replacement and repair, litter removal, and other duties to ensure the highway is maintained at a high standard.
The Corporation also funds Major Maintenance work on the Cobequid Pass facility, which has included crack filling, sealing and micro-surfacing of the asphalt surface, replacement of lane controllers for the toll system, and a new emergency power generator at the Toll Plaza. These works were funded through the Corporation's Major Maintenance Reserve Fund, and involved no public monies.
Atlantic Highway Management Corporation
The toll operations are run by Atlantic Highway Management Corporation Limited (AHMCL), a subsidiary of the contractor, Atlantic Highways Corporation (AHC). Both are now owned by Aecon. AHC guaranteed the highway for three years, which was an unprecedented warranty period at that time, and all deficiencies were repaired at their expense.
The electronic tolling system managed by AHMCL links vehicles carrying a transponder to a computerized account and automatically deducts the toll.
Supplied by IBI Group, the system provides for automatic toll collection and cash transaction with built-in audit capabilities.
AHMCL currently employs about 40 people at the Toll Plaza, most from Cumberland and Colchester Counties.
Highway 104 Western Alignment Corporation