Sackville councillors discuss allowing ATVs to cross McDonald’s intersection

Paul Branscombe, President Tantramar ATV Club

If town councillors agree, ATV riders could soon be driving legally from the parking lot at Sackville’s Visitor Information Centre along Mallard Drive, through the busy intersection at McDonald’s to the ATV trails at the far end of Wright Street.

At its meeting next week, Sackville Town Council is expected to vote on whether to support the New Brunswick ATV Federation’s request to allow all-terrain vehicles to operate on those two municipal roadways.

The federation is asking the town for a letter of support before it applies for permission from the provincial Department of Transportation as well as Justice and Public Safety.

Paul Branscombe, President of the Tantramar ATV Club and treasurer of the provincial federation, told councillors at their meeting this week that it’s better to allow ATVers to operate legally on those routes so that speed limits and other rules of the road can be strictly enforced.

“That’s the thing that we as an ATV Federation are saying, that we wanted control,” Branscombe said.

He added that allowing ATV owners to unload their vehicles at the Visitor Information Centre and to drive legally on Mallard and Wright would enable his federation to market Sackville as a destination for riders from the three Maritime provinces as well as Ontario and Quebec.

“There is a major spinoff for tourism,” he said. “Last year in February, the last week of February, we hosted a poker run, 50 rooms at the Coastal Inn, 45 of them were booked for two nights by ATVers.”

Branscombe said the federation has permission from McDonald’s and the Esso station for ATV riders to cross those properties on their way to and from the trails at the end of Wright Street.

Council concerns

While several councillors liked the idea of more business for local restaurants, gas stations and hotels, they also expressed concern about further congestion at the McDonald’s intersection.

“I drive through that intersection every day on the way to work and it is pretty bad,” said Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken. “We have people making illegal turns everywhere and to add, [I’m] not against the ATV group or anything, but just to add more vehicles there of a different kind…worries me.”

Councillor Michael Tower noted that he sees a lot of ATVers riding illegally past the liquor store on Wright Street and so he likes the idea of setting some rules. But he said he also worries about more traffic at an already busy intersection.

“I go through that a lot too and I know that people will push that light a lot of times,” Tower said, adding that he’s concerned about ATVs colliding with drivers trying to beat the light.

“I have my concerns also of the idea of ATVs flying up Wright Street because [of] the traffic that goes in and out of McDonald’s at that section and then the one that comes out of the liquor store, Foodland and then you’ve also got people who are coming out of the Coastal [Inn],” Tower said suggesting that a one-year trial period could allow the town to assess how increased ATV traffic would work in the area.

What will RCMP say?

Councillor Bill Evans seemed to sum up other councillors’ feelings when he said that while he’d like to be convinced that allowing ATV traffic would be a good idea, his support will depend on a recommendation from Sergeant Paul Gagné who has just returned to head Sackville’s RCMP detachment.

CAO Phil Handrahan said Gagné hasn’t had a chance to consider the matter yet, but promised that town staff would solicit his opinion before Tuesday’s council meeting.

For his part, Paul Branscombe of the ATV federation said that when the proposal was first discussed during a meeting with the town in April, the RCMP had no objections then to seeking council’s support for it.

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10 Responses to Sackville councillors discuss allowing ATVs to cross McDonald’s intersection

  1. Percy Best says:

    One would think a properly rough-graded area on the vacant lot beside the Maritime Conference Office of the United Church, at the end of Wright Street, would be a MUCH simpler and safer place to park all the trucks and trailers that arrive to unload their ATV’s. They presumably then would NEVER have to travel on the congested public roads in this area except to cross Wright Street to fuel up at the Esso and, as well, the Coastal Inn is but a couple of hundred feet away. Seems like a really scary proposition to mix up to 50 ATVs at a time and all the street legal traffic, especially from the traffic lights down past Tim Hortons, the Irving, Pattersons, Pizza Delight and Home Hardware. I can’t believe that our current Town Council that has an active total BAN on any additional drive-thrus in Sackville, because of the possibility of additional emissions and traffic congestion, would actually consider this for recreational vehicles. Simply help them find (and maybe even provide) an alternate location especially one that is on the current ATV trail as suggested above.

  2. Kelly says:

    I agree with Percy. I have been wondering who is in charge of enforcing the no parking law on that exit (504). I encountered yet another 18 wheeler trying to cross 3 lanes of traffic today to get from one side of the exit to the on ramp after, I assume, getting their food or coffee at macdonalds or tims. I’m wondering why there is nothing being done about the trucks parking at the end of the offramp? And if we now have ATV’s to contend with while going to Payzants Home Hardware that just makes this end of town even more of a traffic nightmare. I witnessed one motorist involved in 5 near misses today when picking my son up from Tantramar High school and shudder to think what added safety concerns will come if the town allows even more unsafe vehicle traffic travel in this area? I am a former owner of ATV, Snowmobiles and can honestly say I would never have thought it was safe to drive such a vehicle on a public roadway. They have no signal lights, no yearly inspections, not required to have a license to drive if over a certain age and the tires are certainly not made for paved roadways. I believe this would be a disaster waiting to happen!!

  3. Demian Hammock says:

    Does the Town of Sackville even have the jurisdiction to do this?
    Off-road vehicle – New Brunswick – NB Government.
    What happens if I break off-road vehicle laws?
    “Operating within 7.5 metres of a highway”

    The Town of Sackville might want to think about Insurance implications and how ATV’s are insured?
    Meaning if one these ATV’s causes a massive accident and let’s say the insurance does not cover it or maybe that individual has no insurance, let say the individual who causes this accident is SIX years old.
    Who will be footing the bill if such an accident occurred? The citizens of Sackville, NB ? Meaning could an individual or individual sue the Town of Sackville for Gross – Negligence?

    NB – Law
    “Age 6-11:
    • All-terrain vehicle not exceeding 70cc
    • Snowmobile not exceeding 120cc
    • Dirt bike not exceeding 120cc ”

    “Under existing off-road vehicle legislation, there are a number of requirements you MAY need in order to operate your off-road vehicle” –

    • Percy Best says:

      So Demian, if the Town Council votes affirmative to this motion then perhaps they will ask us, the taxpayers of Sackville, to pay the Provincial fine of $272.50 each and every time an (off highway) ATV rider comes within 7.5 meters of the highway. haha When the Mayor last year addressed the citizens of our Town concerning enforcing the ban of a Robin’s Donut establishment out at Exit 506, he stated — “The law is the law and one can’t break the law”.

      • brucewark says:

        My article points out that the NB ATV Federation will be asking the province to allow ATV riders to operate their vehicles on Mallard & Wright. But the federation is seeking a letter of support from the town first. Apparently, the province won’t act without the town’s say so. The info I’m referring to is in the third paragraph:

        “The federation plans to apply for permission from the provincial Department of Transportation, but needs a letter of support first from town council.”

        So, just to be clear, councillors were discussing whether to support the ATV federation’s request to the province for this specific exemption from the traffic laws. If town council votes to support the federation, it’s saying that allowing ATVers to unload their machines at the Visitor Info Centre parking lot and to ride on Mallard, through the McDonald’s intersection and along Wright Street is OK with the town. To repeat, the issue here is whether the town will write a letter of support to get the province to change the traffic laws in this case. There’s no question here of town taxpayers paying fines on behalf of ATVers operating illegally on highways.

  4. Sharon Hicks says:

    While the crux of this story is indeed whether the town will endorse the ATV association’s application to the province to change the applicable laws to allow them to do as they want, it still falls on the Town to carefully consider the potential ramifications of what that change in law(s) could bring upon us, should they support that application.

    More traffic congestion (which is one of the strongest arguments the town put forward for maintaining the ban on further drive-thrus), more engine emissions (also one of their arguments against allowing more drive-thrus to develop), the potential for inebriated ATV drivers acting carelessly at one of the busiest intersections in town, the potential for underage and possibly unlicensed (uninsured as well?) drivers being involved in (or causing) traffic accidents in that area, and the list could continue.

    While many, or perhaps even most, ATV operators are solid citizens who exercise due caution and responsibility when driving their machines, one must still make allowances for the perhaps smaller margin of them who do not fit into that category. While this may be ‘painting them all with the same brush’, it’s still a valid concern for thinking citizens.

    Erring on the side of caution may be the best guideline here.

    • brucewark says:

      Yes, I agree the town has an important role to play here. And, I hope my story conveys this. The ATV federation needs the town’s support, otherwise the province will not likely grant an exemption allowing ATVs to operate on town roadways. So, as I see it, the vote by town council on the federation’s request for a letter of support will be a deciding factor on whether (or not), ATVers are allowed to ride on Mallard, through the McDonald’s intersection and along Wright. It also seems clear to me that what the RCMP has to say will also be crucial. If the RCMP comes out against this, I doubt that a majority of councillors would vote in favour of the federation’s request for a letter of support.

  5. Percy Best says:

    I still feel the Town should definitely help the ATV Federation and work along with them to offer up a viable alternate solution. As I said above there is lots of room on their trail system at the end of Wright Street for a very spacious parking lot for unloading and storing vehicles. We took a drive and a look-see for ourselves this afternoon.

  6. Paul carpenter says:

    This has passed in several towns such as Bathurst and just recently Memramcook.

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