Martin Poirier was left paralyzed when he hit a moose driving on Route 15. He’s recovering at the Stan Cassidy Centre For Rehabilitation in Fredericton and wants the province to install fencing along the highway to prevent further crashes like his June 5.
PHOTO: SHANE MAGEE/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT
The provincial Transportation Department will gather the latest moose collision data after relying on outdated information in ruling out wildlife fencing along a stretch of Route 15, the minister said on Wednesday.
“I’ve instructed my department to have another look at this,” Bill Fraser told the Times & Transcript on Wednesday. He did not commit to adding fencing, just gathering data to consider the issue again.
His comments came after the Times & Transcript examined the impact of a moose collision on the life of Martin Poirier, who was left paralyzed when his car hit one of the animals on June 5 on an unfenced section of Route 15.
“It’s good to know they’re reviewing the data,” Poirier said in a text to the Times & Transcript on Wednesday.
Shediac Fire Chief Donald Cormier had called a stretch of the divided, four-lane highway between Dieppe and his town a “serious threat to public safety” after responding to Poirier’s accident and three other moose collisions earlier this year. Cormier called for fencing, increased hunting and more public awareness.
Shediac Mayor Jacques LeBlanc sent a letter to the province on the issue, but in a reply to the town on Sept. 25, Fraser rejected fencing.
“I’m very happy, glad there’s an openness to revisit this,” the mayor said Wednesday.
Tanya Greer, a Transportation Department spokeswoman, said in an email on Monday the province is considering adding signs on Route 15 to warn drivers of moose.
On Wednesday, Fraser said his decision was based on his department’s latest data from 2009 to 2014, when six moose collisions were recorded.
He couldn’t say how many crashes would warrant adding fencing. Fencing one kilometre costs an average of $100,000, Greer said last week.
On Wednesday, leaders of the Green Party, NDP and People’s Alliance said in interviews they’d support fencing on Route 15.
“Absolutely,” said David Coon, the Green Party leader.
Coon flagged Route 15 in the legislature last week as one of several areas his staff found without fencing where people were concerned about collisions.
“I think it’s a no-brainer that they should look at moose fencing,” said Kris Austin, leader of the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick.
Jennifer McKenzie, leader of the NDP, said she knows people who have hit moose and been injured.
“Anything we can do to reduce the number of collisions I think should be a priority of the New Brunswick government,” McKenzie said.
The Progressive Conservatives did not provide a requested interview.
Fraser again pointed out the section of highway is near an area considered ecologically sensitive for moose migrating to and from Nova Scotia. Moose are endangered in Nova Scotia.
“The installation of fences has to be carefully planned to ensure that’s it’s not just forcing the animals out into other areas,” Fraser said.
The minister offered his thoughts for those affected by the crashes.