Author by : The Daily Gleaner
Photo by : Adam Bowie/The Daily Gleaner
St. Thomas University professor Brian Carty died last month after the car he was driving with a moose on the highway in Memramcook. The tragedy, felt deeply in this community, is one that’s unfolded for countless families throughout New Brunswick, and Carty’s case has renewed calls for more moose fencing along the province’s highways.
This week, we also learned of another motorist’s collision with a bear on the road in Waweig. The animal was killed, and fortunately, the mother at the wheel was only mildly injured while her two children were unhurt. However, the result could have been far worse.
Fredericton South MLA and Green Party Leader David Coon has raised the issue of animal fencing in the legislature, and understandably, Carty’s family would welcome more of it so as to spare other families the grief they’re experiencing.
John Carty, the victim’s brother, impressively offered a tempered and considered perspective on the issue, acknowledging that while it would be ideal for every kilometre of highway in New Brunswick to be fenced, it might not be entirely feasible from a fiscal standpoint.
He described the challenge of finding a balance between public safety and management of public funds as “an expensive proposition and a harsh reality of living here in New Brunswick.” We applaud him for his reasoned position in light of the emotional turmoil he and his family are experiencing.
We’ve been down this road before, and past governments have taken action, in the wake of similar tragedies, to install animal fencing. It’s no doubt saved lives on other New Brunswick highways and might have saved Brian Carty’s had it been in place where his accident occurred.
A discussion about achieving that balance between public safety and fiscal responsibility is an important one to have, but we want to suggest another perspective. After so many years and so many fatalities, wouldn’t it have been more cost-effective to install such fencing when new highway construction was carried out?
Going back to a stretch of highway to erect moose fencing after the fact has to be a more expensive undertaking than doing so in concert with the original construction of the road, when crews are already on site. Why hasn’t this been a default policy for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure? Why react to tragedy when government can be proactive and prevent it?
Consider the costs to the public sector of not having such fencing. Health care, policing, cleanup and potential social-assistance benefits – expenditures that can be avoided by spending on fencing.