Question Period: Moose Fencing – November 9, 2017

The video and transcript of oral questions are recorded in the language it was originally spoken.

M. Coon : La semaine dernière, j’ai posé la question suivante au ministre des Transports et de
l’Infrastructure : Le long de quelles sections de routes prévoit-il installer des clôtures pour animaux sauvages cette année? Il n’a pas répondu à ma question. Le problème des collisions avec les animaux sauvages est grave, mais, pourtant, l’installation de clôtures a beaucoup diminué. Il semble que ces clôtures sont seulement installées lorsque sont construites de nouvelles routes, comme celle à quatre voies entre St. Stephen et Lepreau ou la voie de contournement de Caraquet. Le ministre des Transports et de l’Infrastructure va-t-il enfin nous dire si des clôtures ont été installées de 2013 à 2016 aux endroits les plus vulnérables pour ce genre d’accident?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: I want to thank the member opposite for the question and for raising an
important issue. At the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, we take the safety of the traveling public very seriously. We have many things that go into wildlife mitigation, including brushcutting, enhanced signage, warning signs, public awareness campaigns, and moose fencing. I can tell you that we invested significant dollars in wildlife mitigation last year, the year before, and again this year. We will continue to do everything we can to mitigate the risks associated with wildlife issues.

Mr. Coon: As it turns out, the department has been using data collected between 3 and 10 years
ago to determine which areas are hot spots along our highways and roads. However, based on the number of collisions between vehicles and moose over the past few months and this year, it seems clear to me that this data is outdated and that it is necessary to build more wildlife fencing. The Shediac fire chief has called a section of Highway 15 between Shediac and Dieppe a “serious threat to public safety”. The Mayor of Shediac sent a letter to the province asking for fencing in September, which the minister rejected. Other highways with moose collisions
reported this year include two sections of Route 8 between McGivney and Blackville, the section between Russellville Road and Allardville, and Highway 2 between Sackville and Moncton. Will the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure confirm whether there has been any wildlife fencing constructed this year that is not associated with the building of new highways?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: What I can confirm here today is that I had a conversation with the Mayor of
Shediac just yesterday in regard to the situation in the Shediac region. We have set up a meeting with him and the public safety committee, which includes the Shediac fire chief, Ambulance New Brunswick personnel, RCMP, and other members of council. We are going to be having that meeting to look at the most up-to-date data that they, as a group, have collected. We are going to do the right thing for the safety of that section of highway. As I said, we take the safety of the traveling public very seriously. We have invested heavily in wildlife mitigation in the past three years. We are going to continue to do that.

Mr. Coon: It seems to me that the minister’s department has not been building wildlife fencing
on existing roads and highways where there are hot spots for wildlife. The minister has said in the past that the construction of wildlife fencing is important strategic infrastructure and that the government believes in investing in strategic infrastructure. I think it is important to recognize that this form of structure requires routine maintenance, such as the maintenance that was done to fix the fence on Route 7 between Saint John and Fredericton to keep New Brunswickers safe. This week, the government released its 2018-19 capital budget. Can the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure tell the House if any money is allocated in this capital budget for the construction of wildlife fencing on existing routes? If so, how much is allocated for this initiative in the 2018-19 budget?

Hon. Mr. Fraser: Once again, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this important
issue to light. We are very much aware of it. Every year, there are horrific accidents on New
Brunswick highways that we have to deal with, whether they are collisions with other motor
vehicles or collisions with wildlife.

As I said yesterday, my heart and my thoughts go out to the people who are involved in those
horrific accidents, and I am sure that every member here and every member of the public is
aware of the situation or has a family member who was involved in one type or another of those
situations. We take those very seriously. We have invested heavily in wildlife mitigation. We
invested over $5 million in wildlife mitigation in 2015-16, over $4.4 million in 2016-17, and
another $4.1 million in 2017-18. We will be investing more money in the coming budget to do
more wildlife mitigation because we take this very seriously.