The New Brunswick All-Terrain Vehicle Federation won a decisive victory tonight as Sackville Town Council voted in favour of allowing ATVs to mix with regular traffic on Mallard Drive, Wright Street and the busy McDonald’s intersection at Main Street.
At their meeting last week, several councillors expressed strong safety concerns about adding more traffic to the already congested commercial strip near TransCanada Exit 504, but tonight they voted unanimously to support the ATV Federation’s request for access to town streets in the area.
Council authorized the mayor to write a letter supporting the ATV Federation’s application to the provincial government asking for an exemption from the law that prohibits all-terrain vehicles from operating on public roadways. In doing so, Sackville joined more than a dozen other New Brunswick municipalities that support allowing ATVs on local streets.
“We have a culture in this area,” said Councillor Allison Butcher, “of people who use off-road, motorized vehicles.”
Butcher, who moved the motion authorizing the mayor’s letter of support, pointed out that Sergeant Paul Gagné, head of the local RCMP detachment, had given his approval while the ATV Federation has put time and thought into ways of making it safe.
“It means that it will be bringing revenue into our community and they’re going about it in a way that’s making sure that they’re making it as safe for everyone as they can,” Butcher said.
“I’ve been conflicted about this,” said Councillor Megan Mitton, “and concerned about safety at that intersection by the McDonald’s.”
But she added that she got good answers to the questions she asked over the past week.
“We’re not expecting there to be much of an increase in traffic there,” Mitton said, noting that signs will be put up to guide ATV riders.
Councillor Bill Evans said that if the provincial Departments of Transportation, Justice and Public Safety give their approval, the town will still maintain control by passing its own traffic bylaw.
“If it turns out this is a really bad idea, we’ll be able to change our own local bylaw,” Evans said.
He predicted, however, that the ATV Federation will police itself because it has an interest in making the arrangement work.
“As someone who regularly uses their trails to walk on, I think a little reciprocity will be a good thing,” Evans added.
ATV Federation relieved
After the unanimous vote of support, Paul Branscombe of the ATV Federation seemed relieved that councillors who expressed safety concerns last week had now voted in favour.
“I’m very pleased that the federation was able to provide information along with the RCMP to persuade those people…to change their opinion and support that motion,” he said.
“I think if it had gone to a vote last week, it wouldn’t have passed,” he added.