Attendance rising for Brush Cutting Initiative meetings
Another public meeting – the third of its kind in recent weeks, was held in Middle Arm on Monday night, in an aim to get people rallied around the concerns of brush along the sides of the roads on route 413.
© Rudy Norman
Chris Mitchell speaks at the public meeting concerning the amount of brush on route 413 in Middle Arm on Monday night.
Chris Mitchell, the founder of the “MSB Brush Cutting” initiative, hosted the meeting, along with the two others, with the previous two being held in Burlington.
Mitchell said he was pleased with the attendance of just over 70 people on Monday, as each meeting is seeing an increase in attendance and he feels this indicates interest in the cause.
While the attendance was fair, the purpose of the meeting wasn’t as plain for many in attendance, it seemed.
During the meeting, Mitchell reiterated the need to find solutions to the problem at hand, in that he and others feel the brush on the sides of route 413 is too thick, and thus poses hazards to those who travel the roads. The message hasn’t changed from the previous two meetings, and many of the same points were made again.
“People have nothing but bad to say about the road,” said Mitchell. He feels that if they are to see Government do anything about the situation this season, action needs to be taken soon.
“Right now we’re fighting time because once the snow comes, it’s useless to cut the brush then.”
Mitchell maintains that the woods around route 413 have an excess moose population, and his claim that a brush-cutting project hasn’t happened on the road in nine years is also one of his main points.
MHA Kevin Pollard, who attended the first meeting Mitchell organized a few weeks ago, wasn’t at Monday night’s meeting, however Mitchell said that both he and the Minister of Transportation were invited.
After the first meeting, Pollard met with the Minister of Transportation, Paul Davis, and Mitchell says Pollard contacted him after the meeting and said he expects brush cutting on route 413 to begin this coming fall.
“That’s what we heard last year too,” said Mitchell, when he told the crowd on Monday night, what he’d heard from Pollard.
People continued to sit and listen, and some offered insight into what was being said.
However, despite the fair turn out, attendees weren’t as vocal as one may expect when asked for feedback on the issue.
Mitchell tried to commission those in attendance to call radio talk shows and voice their concerns, but when asked who would do it, few indicated they would. Some indicated their willingness to email and be a voice other ways, but seemed to have their limitations on how far they were prepared to press the issue.
Petitions were brought up as an avenue to pursue, and many offered support in that area, however Mitchell says if they soon don’t get answers, they’re willing to move into more drastic action as well.
“If it comes down to it, we’ll block the road and make sure no traffic gets through,” he said. He also said there’s a video being prepared that shows the brush on the roads, and how dire the situation really is.
Before the night was over, Mitchell said they planned to form a committee, but it appears a lack on interest in that was evident as well, with four names coming forward in what was expected to be a six person committee.
Despite all that, though, one question got a large response from mostly everyone in the room.
Mitchell asked how many people drive the highway in the middle of the road, in an effort to give them better odds if a moose jumps out of the brush.
Nearly every hand in the room went up.
“We do that,” said Mitchell, “to give ourselves a 50/50 chance. But in reality, 50/50 isn’t good enough odds when it comes to driving on our highways.”
Chatter could be heard throughout the crowd as agreeing voices recognized that there was in fact a problem at hand.