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Clear cutting in Swift Current leaves residents concerned


Megan Beck doesn’t like what’s happening in her hometown.

Beside her parents’ home — next to a sign that reads “Welcome to Swift Current – Enjoy The View” — maple, birch and even apple trees are being removed at a rate that Beck finds alarming.

“They had been clear cutting on the highway down from Goobies for a few days. But nobody realized that the plan was to go down through the community, which makes no sense. They have marked out mature trees on the waterside to cut that would have no bearing on visibility for moose,” Beck told The Packet.

Beck said she and members of the community have been told the clear cutting is due to federal Canadian standards requiring cutting brush and trees along all highways back 20 metres from the centre of the road due to safety concerns.

“I assumed as well that it had to do with moose vehicle accidents,” Beck said.

She said on Thursday, Dec. 3, cutting started at 2 a.m. past the Swift Current sign, keeping members of the community awake.

“They are cutting throughout the night. There was no discretionary notice and for certain there was no discussion with the people of the town pertaining to the decision to do that, Beck said.

“It’s disgraceful. Where they started was right in front of my parents’ house and there are several houses that are already affected. They’ve cut 20 metres to each side of the centerline of the highway, which apparently is their plan all the way through.”

Beck said cutting isn’t even the proper term for what is being done, as the machine tears up everything in its path.

“It leaves an unsightly mess of stumps, dirt and everything else. People in the community have described it as a war zone,” Beck said.

She immediately decided to call Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Browne, who told her cutting would cease until after a community discussion is held, but she got word that cutting continued all night the following night.

Browne, who was just elected Nov. 30 and has not yet been sworn in as the Liberal MHA, told The Packet he spoke with the Department of Transportation and Works and learned a contract was awarded for brush cutting from North Harbour to Piper’s Hole. The contactor undertaking the work has used a large machine, which left a lot of debris.

“The residents of Swift Current are concerned by the fact that they are using this large machine in their community, where Swift Current is known the world over for its beautiful birch and aspen,” Browne said.

Browne said he asked the Department of Transportation and Works to stop the cutting and it did. He hopes to have a broader dialogue with the community. He said cutting will be delayed until a resolution is reached.

“Obviously brush cutting is part of general road maintenance, but we are putting a hold on it and will come to it at a later time,” Browne said.

Director of communications for the Department of Transportation, Jacquelyn Howard, told The Packet via Email that brush clearing stopped after concerns of brush clearing were brought to the department.

“In response, the brush clearing activity through the community will be postponed, clewing up tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 8, to allow the issues identified to be resolved. Brush clearing in areas outside the community will continue.  Brush clearing of highway road right-of-ways is a periodic road maintenance activity primarily intended to improve visibility for the travelling public,” said Howard.

Beck is hoping the cutting won’t go any further and that steps will be taken to help keep her community beautiful.

“I want to emphasize that despite being outside the community sign, Piper Hole River and the former provincial park area, are still very much a part of the community. People do reside in this area, so cutting this area around Mile Hill will affect the community,” she said. “When you drive in to Swift Current from the Burin Peninsula highway, from up above, Swift Current starts at the top of a hill and it’s a beautiful view. So, destroying the landscape, 20 metres on each side of the landscape, is going to deface the beauty that Swift Current is known for.”

Beside her parents’ home — next to a sign that reads “Welcome to Swift Current – Enjoy The View” — maple, birch and even apple trees are being removed at a rate that Beck finds alarming.

“They had been clear cutting on the highway down from Goobies for a few days. But nobody realized that the plan was to go down through the community, which makes no sense. They have marked out mature trees on the waterside to cut that would have no bearing on visibility for moose,” Beck told The Packet.

Beck said she and members of the community have been told the clear cutting is due to federal Canadian standards requiring cutting brush and trees along all highways back 20 metres from the centre of the road due to safety concerns.

“I assumed as well that it had to do with moose vehicle accidents,” Beck said.

She said on Thursday, Dec. 3, cutting started at 2 a.m. past the Swift Current sign, keeping members of the community awake.

“They are cutting throughout the night. There was no discretionary notice and for certain there was no discussion with the people of the town pertaining to the decision to do that, Beck said.

“It’s disgraceful. Where they started was right in front of my parents’ house and there are several houses that are already affected. They’ve cut 20 metres to each side of the centerline of the highway, which apparently is their plan all the way through.”

Beck said cutting isn’t even the proper term for what is being done, as the machine tears up everything in its path.

“It leaves an unsightly mess of stumps, dirt and everything else. People in the community have described it as a war zone,” Beck said.

She immediately decided to call Placentia West-Bellevue MHA Mark Browne, who told her cutting would cease until after a community discussion is held, but she got word that cutting continued all night the following night.

Browne, who was just elected Nov. 30 and has not yet been sworn in as the Liberal MHA, told The Packet he spoke with the Department of Transportation and Works and learned a contract was awarded for brush cutting from North Harbour to Piper’s Hole. The contactor undertaking the work has used a large machine, which left a lot of debris.

“The residents of Swift Current are concerned by the fact that they are using this large machine in their community, where Swift Current is known the world over for its beautiful birch and aspen,” Browne said.

Browne said he asked the Department of Transportation and Works to stop the cutting and it did. He hopes to have a broader dialogue with the community. He said cutting will be delayed until a resolution is reached.

“Obviously brush cutting is part of general road maintenance, but we are putting a hold on it and will come to it at a later time,” Browne said.

Director of communications for the Department of Transportation, Jacquelyn Howard, told The Packet via Email that brush clearing stopped after concerns of brush clearing were brought to the department.

“In response, the brush clearing activity through the community will be postponed, clewing up tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 8, to allow the issues identified to be resolved. Brush clearing in areas outside the community will continue.  Brush clearing of highway road right-of-ways is a periodic road maintenance activity primarily intended to improve visibility for the travelling public,” said Howard.

Beck is hoping the cutting won’t go any further and that steps will be taken to help keep her community beautiful.

“I want to emphasize that despite being outside the community sign, Piper Hole River and the former provincial park area, are still very much a part of the community. People do reside in this area, so cutting this area around Mile Hill will affect the community,” she said. “When you drive in to Swift Current from the Burin Peninsula highway, from up above, Swift Current starts at the top of a hill and it’s a beautiful view. So, destroying the landscape, 20 metres on each side of the landscape, is going to deface the beauty that Swift Current is known for.”

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