St. John's lawyer Ches Crosbie says a recent survey indicates nine out of 10 people on the island portion of the province say the moose-vehicle collision problem should be a priority for the provincial government.
The survey, conducted for the Save Our People Action Committee (SOPAC), also shows 47.4 per cent of the people surveyed know someone who has been in a moose-vehicle collision.
Kellie Feltham of Sandy Point, in central Newfoundland, holds a photo of her son Konrad Feltham, who was killed in a moose-vehicle accident on July 3, 2009. Feltham was attending a news conference at The HUB on Merrymeeting Road in St. John’s Tuesday. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Eight in 10 survey participants agree with building more fences to keep moose off problem highway areas. Three in 10 disagreed with government compensation for victims of moose-vehicle collisions who were hospitalized or family members of those killed in moose-vehicle collisions. The survey involved a sample of 410 people on the island, with an estimated accuracy of plus or minus 4.9 per cent 19 times out of 20.
"Based on these survey results, the public wants government to settle the moose class action and put up fences along problem areas of highway," Crosbie said at a news conference Tuesday. "Government has to be financially responsible and take a hard look at the risk of losing, but in a democracy, it also needs to be responsive to public concerns."
The government argued in a court hearing Monday that the moose class-action class period should be limited to two years before the lawsuit was filed. Crosbie said this would exclude representative plaintiff Ben Bellows, who was rendered quadriplegic during a moose-vehicle collision in 2003.
Crosbie argued to keep the current 10-year class period, based on the idea that the negligence of government was not reasonably discoverable before 2010.
Justice Valerie Marshall will give her decision before the trial, which is set for January 2014.
If government is successful in limiting the class period, Crosbie said, the number of class members would be reduced by about 80 per cent.
Crosbie is seeking compensation for those hospitalized and killed by moose-vehicle collisions, beginning Jan. 5, 2001. The plaintiffs are also asking that fences be erected in problem highway areas and for a reduction in the moose population in high-risk areas, with a goal of reducing injuries by 50 per cent within five years.