Wildlife Fencing: Question Period – November 1, 2017
The video and transcript of oral questions are recorded in the language it was originally spoken.
M. Coon: L’installation de clôtures pour animaux sauvages a grandement diminué le nombre
d’accidents entre des véhicules et des animaux sur les routes. En 2014, le ministère des Transports et de l’Infrastructure a publié des statistiques qui montrent que les nouvelles clôtures qui longent la route 7, la route 8 et la route 11 ont fait baisser de 87 % en trois ans le nombre de collisions. Cela dit, les plus récentes données révèlent qu’il y a encore quand même plus de 400 accidents impliquant des orignaux et des véhicules dans la province. Le ministre des Transports et de l’Infrastructure peut-il me dire combien de collisions devront se produire avant de faire installer d’autres clôtures?
Hon. Mr. Fraser: I want to thank the member opposite for the question, and I want to start out
by saying that one fatality is too many fatalities. At the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, we take the safety of the traveling public extremely seriously. What I can say is that our government believes very strongly in investing in strategic infrastructure. One of the reasons that we do that is for growing the economy, but the other reason that we do that is for the safety of the motoring public and the safety of the people who travel on our highways. We have over 600 kilometres of moose fencing now installed on New Brunswick highways, and we continuously work with the Department of Energy and Resource Development to look at hot spots within the province. We look at traffic counts, and we look at the number of collisions in an area. Every year, we do an evaluation to see where it is necessary to install more fencing. We are going to continue to do that because, on this side of the House, we believe in infesting in strategic infrastructure.
Mr. Coon: The minister did not actually answer my question and tell me what it takes to label an
area of highway a hot spot. When the Deputy Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure appeared before the public accounts committee in October, he told us that the areas chosen for wildlife fencing are, in fact, based on the frequency of collisions. He called them, as the minister just did, hot spots. Between 2006 and 2013, government fenced an average of 32 km of highway each year. However, the concept of hot spots seems to have disappeared in 2014. In what appears to have been an effort to save money, only 12.5 km of highway were fenced in that year. Can the minister tell us, on average, how many kilometres of highway were fenced between 2015 and
Hon. Mr. Fraser: Again, I can say that we take the safety of the people traveling on New
Brunswick highways extremely seriously. It is our number one priority at the Department of
Transportation and Infrastructure. The other thing that I can confirm here today is that when the Leader of the Opposition was Finance Minister, budgets of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure were cut and
slashed. When we took office in 2014, we made a significant investment in infrastructure, and we continue to see those significant investments in infrastructure. The reason those investments are so important—it is just as the leader of the third party is saying—is that we have to make sure that our highway systems are safe for the people who travel on them. On this side of the House, we are going to continue to invest in our highway infrastructure. We are going to continue to invest in the safety of our highways so that people can travel on our highways in a safe manner. As I said, one fatality is one fatality too many, and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that we mitigate this as best we can.
Mr. Coon: This year, there have been concerns about the number of collisions with moose on
Highway 15, between Dieppe and Shediac; on two sections of Route 8, between McGivney and Blackville, where eight moose were struck in a two-month period earlier this year; between the Russellville Road and Allardville, where the same person, in fact, on his delivery route, hit two moose in one month this summer; and, finally, on Highway 2, between Moncton and Sackville, which included one fatality. Can the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure confirm that these areas will be fenced in 2018? If not, will he table in this House a document detailing the highway locations to be fenced for 2018?
Hon. Mr. Fraser: Again, I want to thank the member opposite for raising this very important
issue here on the floor of the House. It is an extremely important issue. As I said, one fatality is
one fatality too many. At the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, we are investing
heavily in infrastructure. We are going to continue to invest heavily in infrastructure. In fact,
there are many factors that go into considering when moose fencing is installed. With respect to
wildlife, moose fencing is one tool that we have to help mitigate that situation.
We also look at improved signage. We look at flashing signs. We have a public awareness
campaign. I would suggest that the leader of the third party go to our Web site, under the tab
“Think Moose”, where there are a number of safety and precautionary tips for the motoring
public. We ask people to drive with caution, especially at certain times of the year when wildlife
is more prevalent. People need to reduce their speed. They need to make sure that their
windshields and their headlights are clear. Again, we on this side of the House are going to
continue to invest in infrastructure.