Trail con­nec­tion safety con­cerns

Town still wants to ex­plore op­tions with ATVers

Tri-County Vanguard - - COVER STORY - TINA COMEAU

While the Town of Yar­mouth wants to see two trails con­nected for ATV users, both the town and the RCMP have safety con­cerns when it comes to us­ing Wa­ter Street to ac­com­plish this.

And judg­ing by the latest dis­cus­sion around the coun­cil ta­ble, it’s not apt to hap­pen.

The town and the RCMP have no con­cerns over mem­bers of the local ATV as­so­ci­a­tion trav­el­ling re­spon­si­bly on the street.

“Where we are con­cerned is the rest of the users,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant Michel Lacroix dur­ing a dis­cus­sion at an Aug. 24 com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing at Yar­mouth Town Hall. He said on trails there are al­ready ATV rid­ers who don’t fol­low rules and have caused dam­age.

“Our con­cern is they’re go­ing to bring this prob­lem to Wa­ter Street,” he said, not­ing the pub­lic street, which has park­ing on both sides – and at times dur­ing events also has heavy pedes­trian traf­fic – is not de­signed to ac­com­mo­date all-ter­rain ve­hi­cle traf­fic.

Un­like other mo­tor ve­hi­cle traf­fic that uses the street, ATVs are not li­censed or reg­is­tered, it was noted dur­ing the dis­cus­sion. And even if they were, how would the RCMP en­force this, Lacroix asked. He’s wor­ried about situa- tions where rid­ers wouldn’t pull over for RCMP checks and would speed off in­stead.

“It’s go­ing to be hard to fig­ure out who is good and who is bad,” Lacroix said, adding about the en­force­ment, “It’s not some­thing we would like to add to our list.”

Other coun­cil­lors ex­pressed sim­i­lar con­cerns.

“Wa­ter Street is a pub­lic high­way,” said Coun­cil­lor Clif­ford Hood, say­ing only li­censed and reg­u­lated ve­hi­cles should be on it. “I’m not go­ing to vote for un­li­censed, un­reg­is­tered ATVs tear­ing up the street.”

Coun­cil­lor Wade Cleve­land said he knows ATV and trail as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers are a re­spon­si­ble group and would act ac­cord­ingly on Wa­ter Street. He said there is ex­cite­ment over the pos­si­bil­ity of link­ing the two trails. But, he ac­knowl­edged, it can’t be at the ex­pense of pub­lic safety.

Still, ev­ery­one around the coun­cil ta­ble would like to see some type of so­lu­tion found to link the trails.

Yar­mouth Mayor Pam Mood said she would still like to see some sort of link within town lim­its, not­ing that re­spon­si­ble ATV traf­fic is good for busi­ness and tourism.

She said it is too bad that con­cerns over ir­re­spon­si­ble ATV use, and safety con­cerns as iden­ti­fied in Wa­ter Street case, de­rail things.

“It seems like most de­ci­sions we make goes down to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, the few that ruin it for the rest. What a shame,” she said.

The con­ver­sa­tion isn’t over, how­ever.

The town wants to ex­plore other op­tions to con­nect the trails and it wants to have talks with the local ATV as­so­ci­a­tion that would also in­clude the RCMP, the local MLA and town staff.

Ear­lier this year the prov­ince in­tro­duced nine pi­lot projects in the prov­ince to al­low off-high­way ve­hi­cles to ac­cess cer­tain high­way stretches link­ing trails to­gether. In this re­gion Wey­mouth was one of the pi­lot lo­ca­tions. Yar­mouth was not.

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