Bay Roberts hopes to rem­edy ATV is­sue through ed­u­ca­tion

Mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer says town has ma­jor safety con­cern

The Compass - - Editorial - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

To put it plainly, we have a ma­jor ATV is­sue here in the com­mu­nity. We have an aw­ful lot of quads and dirt­bikes that are cut­ting in and around the town. — Perry Bow­er­ing

BAY ROBERTS, NL — A re­port from Bay Roberts mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer (MEO) Perry Bow­er­ing led to some in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion on proper use of ATVs.

Dur­ing a reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing for the town of Bay Roberts held on Tues­day, July 18, Bow­er­ing was asked to present an up­date on var­i­ous is­sues that are cur­rently be­ing looked at.

A ma­jor topic Bow­er­ing brought up dur­ing the meet­ing was the use of ATVs in Bay Roberts, and how he feels as though things are get­ting out of con­trol – an opin­ion shared al­most unan­i­mously by mem­bers of coun­cil that were present.

“To put it plainly, we have a ma­jor ATV is­sue here in the com­mu­nity,” said Bow­er­ing. “We have an aw­ful lot of quads and dirt­bikes that are cut­ting in and around the town.”

Bow­er­ing went on to ex­plain that al­though he’s seen sev­eral in­stances of dan­ger­ous use of ATVs through­out the town, lo­cal RCMP does not seem to share the opin­ion that mea­sures need to be taken against it.

One ma­jor is­sue Bow­er­ing saw re­gard­ing ATV use in the area was the age of peo­ple op­er­at­ing the ve­hi­cles. Bow­er­ing noted that many were too young to have a driver’s li­cense, and thus would not prop­erly un­der­stand the laws of road­ways like they should while op­er­at­ing a mo­tor­ized ve­hi­cle.

Coun. Ge­orge Simmons fol­lowed up on this, stat­ing that chil­dren un­der the age of 16 should not be op­er­at­ing ATVs in the first place, and that if some­thing were to hap­pen, par­ents could be held re­spon­si­ble.

Deputy Mayor Wal­ter Yet­man also spoke up about the age is­sue.

“The re­spon­si­bil­ity needs to be geared to­ward the par­ents. These young chil­dren don’t own these bikes, tech­ni­cally, so at the end of the day the de­ci­sion goes to the par­ents,” said Yet­man. “They need to un­der­stand that.”

The dis­cus­sion then led to a re­cent ac­ci­dent in Bon­av­ista, where a 13-year-old girl died fol­low­ing what ap­peared to be a rollover of a side-by-side.

“Some­thing needs to be done out here be­fore some­thing like that hap­pens in our com­mu­nity as well,” said Coun. Bill Sey­mour. “With all the ATV ac­tiv­ity here, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore some­thing re­ally bad hap­pens.”

Bow­er­ing agreed, stat­ing that he was com­pletely on board with any steps to de­crease il­le­gal ATV use. How­ever, he noted again that the lo­cal de­tach­ment was not yet on board with him.

“It doesn’t seem like there’s any­one lis­tened from our lo­cal de­tach­ment,” said Bow­er­ing.

Bow­er­ing also stated that RCMP of­fi­cers are no longer al­lowed to fol­low be­hind bikes and other off-road ve­hi­cles. The rea­son be­hind this, Bow­er­ing said, was that if any­thing were to hap­pen to the op­er­a­tor of the ATV while they were be­ing fol­lowed, it would be on the de­tach­ment, and not the driver of the ATV.

The idea of ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­ing ATV use was brought for­ward by Mayor Phillip Wood, fol­lowed by a strong agree­ment from Bow­er­ing.

“Would we be able to hold some kind of ed­u­ca­tion ses­sion for these ATV users, par­ents, or any­one else who wants to get in­volved?” Wood ques­tioned. “It might not be an im­me­di­ate end to the prob­lem, but it might help in the long run.”

Coun. Dean Franey noted that the Holy­rood RCMP de­tach­ment has a sim­i­lar pro­gram cur­rently on­go­ing in schools that pushes for ATV safety.

Bow­er­ing then mentioned a pre­vi­ous pro­gram of­fered by Search and Res­cue teams across the prov­ince that pro­moted safety mea­sures when boat­ing. Bow­er­ing noted that fol­low­ing the pro­gram, there were a sig­nif­i­cantly smaller num­ber of drown­ings per year.

Near the end of the dis­cus­sion, it was con­cluded that the town would look to sched­ule a meet­ing with coun­cil, Bow­er­ing, RCMP, and pos­si­bly the town’s trail as­so­ci­a­tion, with hopes of ar­rang­ing an ed­u­ca­tion ses­sion for res­i­dents. Though they hope to hold the meet­ing soon, there was no date set in stone as of Tues­day, July 18.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Perry Bow­er­ing, mu­nic­i­pal en­force­ment of­fi­cer for Bay Roberts, said in a re­cent coun­cil meet­ing that the town had a ma­jor ATV is­sue.

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