Local man hopes to use festival to highlight issue of road side brush
Chris Mitchell says on his drive home from Corner Brook one late night, he didn't see a single moose on the highway - until he got to route 413, leading to his home in Burlington.
Mitchell says that night he saw three moose on 413 - a common experience in his time travelling the highway over the past four years since he's returned to this province to raise his family.
© Rudy Norman
MHA Kevin Pollard speaks at a public meeting in Burlington regarding the issue of brush on Route 413. The meeting was organized by cocerned locals.
"I travel the roads all hours of the day, but a lot of times at night and early in the morning," he said to a group gathered at the Town Hall in Burlington on Tuesday night.
They were there for a meeting that was organized by Mitchell, with the help of Mayor George Kelly and others. The goal was to bring light to an issue that they say is becoming increasingly more serious as the days go by - the amount of brush that's beginning to fill the roads on route 413 - the only road leading to the communities of Burlington, Middle Arm and Smith's Harbour, and the risk it poses considering what they feel is a larger than normal moose population.
Residents from all three towns were invited to the meeting, to express their concerns about the growing issue of brush and moose.
"We have a very high moose population," said Mitchell, who opened the meeting with remarks on why they were there, and what they hoped to accomplish.
Passion was evident as he shared why he feels it important that issues of concern be addressed now.
"The brush (on route 413) hasn't been cut in nine years," said Mitchell. That's way too long, and he says there are places on the road now where it's actually almost touching the pavement.
He's calling on Government to take action on the issue.
"As taxpayers, it's not up to us to cut it," he said.
People attended the meeting from all three communities, including Mayor Kelly of Burlington, Mayor Robinson of Middle Arm and Mr. Osmond, chair of the LSD in Smith's Harbour. Also in attendance was MHA Kevin Pollard - who was invited by organizers to hear the concerns of those in attendance.
Several people at the meeting spoke up and stated that on their regular travels on route 413, they experience first hand the dangers of the high moose population and the thick brush. One person even stated they had almost hit a moose on the way home that evening, before attending the meeting.
Mitchell and his supporters say it's nearly impossible to see a moose on the highway while it's in the ditch, and rather people are forced to wait until it comes up on the road to see it.
"How is it that so little attention is given to brush, with so many moose?" asked Mitchell at the meeting. Mayor Kelly chimed in that he'd like answers as well.
"We should know why there's no brush cutting," he stated.
MHA Pollard took the floor eventually, and tried to address concerns that had been raised.
"I appreciate your passion for these issues," he said, "as my desire is to take on issues like this together."
Pollard says he won't deny that the brush on route 413 is an issue, given the high moose population. He calls the road his number one priority when it comes to brush cutting.
"I'm not unaware of the need for something to be done about the situation," he said. "I travel this road quite often, and there have been times I've even stopped and taken photos of the brush, to show folks how serious it is."
However, he says there continues to be a number of issues surrounding the circumstances, which is why nothing still hasn't been done.
He went on to try and explain the process needed to go through in order to get brush along the highways cut, however several times while he was speaking, he was interrupted by Mitchell and others, who kept raising issues before getting answers.
A number of residents pointed to brush cutting activity in other districts, but Pollard could speak little of the matter.
"The reason the brush hasn't been cut isn't because of lack of attention, I assure you of that," he said.
The MHA says he has a meeting scheduled with Transportation and Works Minister, Paul Davis, very soon, and plans to bring up the concerns raised on Tuesday night among others.
"This has been on my agenda for a long time," he said. "Every opportunity I get, I bring up issues like this."
For people like Chris Mitchell, though, he feels he's waited long enough.
He says if something doesn't get done quickly, they're going to have to take matters into their own hands.
He plans to hand out flyers at the entrance of route 413 this weekend while people are going to be showing up for The Gathering.
"We need to let people know about the dangers of travelling over that road," he said. "If we don't, and something happens to someone because of the conditions it's in, then it's on us."