Cape Breton 10-year-old disappointed MLA didn't respond to pothole plea

Sharon Montgomery-Dupe
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Ethan Murrant, 10, of Long Beach Road in Port Morien, stands with his bicycle near one of countless potholes on his road. Murrant says the potholes make bicycling dangerous for himself and other kids in his area, so he wrote a letter to MLA Alfie MacLeod asking for the road to either be paved, or for a sidewalk or bicycle lane to be built there. 

TC MEDIA

All a 10-year-old Cape Breton boy wants is to be able to safely ride his bicycle.

"I always like riding my bike to school but there's so many potholes it’s not safe,” said Ethan Murrant.

“Cars are swerving around the potholes — it's scary."

Murrant, of Long Beach Road, was so concerned that two months ago he wrote to Alfie MacLeod, MLA for Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg.

In the letter, Murrant wrote he rides his bike a lot but it’s scary because the roads are so bad.

“There are a lot of potholes and cars sometimes swerve at me to avoid the holes,” he wrote.

“I have also fallen off my bike because of the potholes.”

Murrant said either the potholes need to be fixed, or a bike lane or sidewalk should be added.

However, Murrant, a Grade 5 student of Donkin Gowrie Complex, said he never heard back from the MLA.

"Yes I felt bad," he said.

"I thought he'd at least care about it."

Murrant said other kids in the same area who also like to ride their bikes.

"I have a younger sister Isabella who is four and she's just learning how to ride a bike."

However, Murrant said about a week ago he got word the Nova Scotia Minister of Transportation Geoff MacLellan had seen his letter through Facebook and wanted to meet with him.

"I felt really good that I was going to meet someone who could actually fix the road for me."

Murrant met MacLellan and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Dist. 8 Coun. Kevin Saccary at the transportation depot across from his school on Monday.

"He asked me a few questions and then I got to go for a drive in a plow."

Murrant said the minister told him the road might be paved.

"He was saying since the mine might be opening soon they are probably going to get all Long Beach Road fixed," Murrant said.

"I'm hoping he can get it done as I don't want anybody to get hurt."

MacLellan said he got wind of the letter Murrant had written from a friend who saw it on Facebook.

"I thought it would be a good chance to have a chat with him and ask him what he saw in the issue with his bike and his take on the whole thing.”

MacLellan had heard Murrant was a hockey player, before their meeting.

"I told him 'I only meet with Leafs fans so who's your hockey team?'" MacLellan said.

"He said, ‘I'm a Leafs fan too.'"

MacLellan said he explained to Murrant how the department works and how they try to do the best they can with the limited resources they have.

"Some roads are being worked on. We are really hopeful a plan can be put together to do some work in the meantime."

He said the long-term goal is to have some paving there to ensure it's safe for the motorists and children.

"Ethan was glad to have that conversation, felt like he made a contribution so we were glad to talk to him."

MacLellan gave Murrant a Department of Transportation hat and jacket.

"He’s a great kid, I enjoyed my time with him. I think it's so neat we have young kids like Ethan at 10 years old interested in how government works."

MacLeod said wasn't aware of the letter Murrant had mailed him and he "felt bad."

After looking he did locate it. MacLeod said it was received by his office April 17.

He said if it wasn't for the Cape Breton Post bringing the letter to his attention, "I'd still be behind the eight ball here."

"I went out and looked for the letter and found it in a pile of  to-do stuff that I guess I never did yet," MacLeod said.

"Quite frankly, I messed up."

MacLeod said he went to Murrant’s house Tuesday and apologized to him and his family.

Murrant is the son of Donna Jean Martell and Charles Murrant.

"I felt I owned him a face-to-face apology."

MacLeod said he talked to the young boy about the road and other concerns.

“We've had the deputy minister of transportation on that road, the district and area manager," he said.

"Part of the issue on that road is the mine and whether work is going to be done to the mine."

MacLeod said Murrant is "quite a little gentleman.

"His parents have a lot to be proud of the way he conducts himself."

Ethan's Letter to Alfie

Dear Alfie MacLeod,

My name is Ethan Murrant and I live on Long Beach Rd., Port Morien. I am ten years old and I am in grade five. I am writing this letter because of the road I live on. I like to drive my bike a lot and driving is scary because the roads are so bad. There are a lot of potholes and cars sometimes swerve at me to avoid the holes. I have also fell off my bike because of the potholes. There are more kids on my road then just me that have bikes and we don't have any sidewalks to ride on so if we want to drive our bikes we have to drive on the side of the road. We would like for you to get the problem fixed whether it would be to fix the road, put a sidewalk or a biking lane.

Thank you,

Ethan

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