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Sparwood looks at solution for highway with high animal collisions
At the September 4th Regular Council meeting, Mayor and Council discussed with much concern the area of Highway 3, especially near Michel-Natal. The stretch of this highway, leading into Sparwood from Alberta is known to be especially dangerous for the high number of vehicle and animal collisions. The Ministry of Transportation reported that the highest number of animal collisions occurred in 2010, with fifteen animals recorded to have been killed by impact. Danny Dwyer, District of Sparwood Director of Planning and Engineering noted that this number is likely to be higher. "The Ministry of Transportation can only record the numbers of animals hit on the highway from the ones that they actually pick up off the road. If an animal is hit, and runs off the highway, its death is not recorded in the numbers we see," he says.
This stretch of highway is causing increasing unease for the District and Council and several possible solutions were discussed, while noting that drivers speed and inattention played a huge part in the issue. "People really need to just slow down," said Councilor Margaret McKie. "It will take the humans to engage their brains while driving to reduce the impact's in the area," commented Councilor Sonny Saad, while both agreed that the ideas Council discussed would possibly help as well.
Illuminated signage was the first possible remedy looked at, with Council agreeing that signs which are illuminated when hit with lights and more pronounced to drivers would possibly help motorists become more cautious in the area. Also, a second suggestion made by Councilor Andy MacIntyre was that a predator call, commonly used in his area of work, was a great deterrent in keeping wildlife away. "This may be something we can look into as a possible solution, it is relatively inexpensive and seems to work from what I have seen, the calls can be changed, so it is not always the same one, and this is not a residential area, so we don't have to worry about the noise," said MacIntyre. "I have seen farmers use this, and it does seem to work for a little while, but eventually the animals get used to it," said Councilor Saad. "My son has one of those, and as soon as he turns it on the crows dissipate immediately," said Councilor Sharon Fraser. "I agree that this may work," she said.
Lighting the area was not an ideal solution as the cost would be very substantial for installing lighting along the stretch of highway.
Council agreed unanimously to further look into both signage and the predator call, and will take a second look at both options when more information is received from staff.