Sackville set to approve ATVs on town streets

All-terrain vehicle

Sackville Town Council is expected to give final approval this week to a bylaw authorizing all-terrain vehicles to mix with regular traffic on two busy streets and the McDonald’s intersection near TransCanada Highway Exit 504.

At its meeting on April 8th, council gave preliminary approval to Bylaw 258 which would allow ATVs to travel to and from the Visitor Information Centre parking lot, up and down Mallard Drive, through the intersection at Main Street, into and across the McDonald’s/Esso parking lot and then to and from trails at the far end of Wright Street.

It would also give ATV riders direct access to restaurants and gas stations as well as a grocery and liquor store along the way.

Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken was the only member of council to vote against first reading of the new bylaw.

“We’ve just finished passing a climate change resolution,” Aiken said referring to council’s declaration of a climate crisis. “This flies directly in the face of it essentially allowing more greenhouse gas emitting vehicles to run around town.”

Aiken also objected to adding more vehicles to an already congested area.

“I drive through it every day and it’s rare the day I don’t see someone doing something stupid,” he added.

Councillor Bill Evans, who voted in favour of the bylaw, said that if it doesn’t work out, council could always repeal it while Councillors Joyce O’Neil and Andrew Black argued that attracting more ATV riders would be an economic benefit to the town.

Letter of support

Trail beside Wright St. that ATVers would no longer need if they win the legal right to travel on the pavement

In October 2017, town council authorized Mayor Higham to write a letter supporting the New Brunswick 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.

The town also sent a draft bylaw authorizing ATV traffic on Mallard Drive, Wright Street and the McDonald’s intersection to the provincial department of public safety which recommended only minor changes.

If, as expected, council gives second and third readings to the bylaw on Tuesday, it will then go back to the province for final approval.

Meantime, Paul Branscombe, President of the Tantramar ATV Club says he’s hoping council will give its blessing to the bylaw.

“Am I optimistic?” Branscombe asked. “You never know with our town council, but there is support there,” he said.

“We’ve done what we can and the RCMP supported it, so hopefully they will move forward with it,” Branscombe added.

For earlier coverage, click here.

Map that is part of the proposed Bylaw 258 showing the Visitor Info. Centre parking lot (far right) and entrance to ATV trails at the end of Wright St. (far left)

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19 Responses to Sackville set to approve ATVs on town streets

  1. It is about time after over 20 years that these villages and towns start to realize that ATV trails and those that use them are an asset to the local economies of these spots that allow them to stop for food or gas. As a Cumberland County former ATV’er and snowmobiler, I can readily state that the majority of trail riders are there for the pleasure of the recreation and making that an easier experience for many who ride diligently either solo or with their wives and companions, is a proper and positive move. Thank you //Gordon Heffler

    • Kelly Alder says:

      I believe the key point your making Gordie boy is that you and others used the trails for the purpose of atving and snowmobiling? I also have done so in the past and who knows maybe will agsin, but I can assure you that ATVs don’t handle the paved roads anything like my vehicles or motorcycles have. Place for everything and the trails are the perfect place for atvs and snowmobiles. I beg you to differ that these vehicles handle and act the same on public paved roadways as ones that currently use them do? So enjoy being able to go wherever you please in Nova Scotia with your atv.

      • Gordon Heffler says:

        I do appreciate and agree that ATVs do not handle well at all on pavement and your point is well taken…agreed. Maybe the only middle ground kind of solution that might be better would be that off-road trails could come close to ammendities and maybe allow for a park and walk to those sites for atv rail users. That might be more acceptable to a wider range of folks and would be appreciated by those on both sides of the proposals. Thanks//

  2. Harold says:

    This adds one more safety concern for vulnerable road users — pedestrians & cyclists. At the same time, we are in a climate emergency that will severely affect our children and grandchildren. But hey, let’s sell more gas and junk food.

    • Gordon Heffler says:

      Oh I completely forgot…we are all to stop living and sacrifice everything in order to save the planet. I have had it up to here with the do gooders and the planet savers and the fish and whale savers and those that need to put homage daily to saving everyone else from ourselves! oops…it’s raining on my parade! Guess after all is said and maybe done I will stay on the Nova Scotia side of the border where some kind of common and shared sensibilities prevail and parades are rarely rained upon. You folks have a good town now while the rest of us head out for a good old Cumberland County ATV weekend…no rain expected!

  3. Harold says:

    Children as young as six years of age are legally allowed to drive an ATV in this province. How will this make our streets safer?

    • Gordon Heffler says:

      Geez while we are at it lets ban golf carts and powered wheelchairs…once we get that done we can outlaw canes and crutches and maybe start heading back to cave-dwelling.

  4. Wendy Alder says:

    Funny timing of this article, we saw 3 ATVs on MAIN street, by the swan pond (in front of coop housing and anglican church) on Saturday!! Downtown!

    • Gordon Heffler says:

      Yup…and I saw one in a neighbour’s garage and another in a backyard and oh by gosh a third in a driveway…..let’s start a neighborhood watch program for them!

      • Wendy Alder says:

        The point is that three ATVs were driving downtown on main street where they are clearly “not allowed”. I’m not against ATVs at all on the trail system, not on the public highways. 2 had no license plates on them so one would assume no insurance so what happens if there’s an accident? Not a place for ATVs on the main streets of town in my opinion. Going from point A to point B is one thing.

      • Gordon Heffler says:

        Yes point well taken on your observations…..there are no doubt always going to be abusers of “the rules” and those unfortunately give everyone in the ATV recreational group “a bad name” and they should be dealt with severely I agree. Lack of insurance or registration is a real problem and a dangerous one for both the operator and anyone that he or she might collide with and so yes trail wardens and trailside checks are a necessary part of the whole picture so that, as in society at large, those of us who follow the requirements are both safe and respected and those that do not are found and suffer a penalty from law enforcement. That way whether you operate legally, a motor vehicle on highways,streets or trails appropriately, you as a legal operator are safe from those who do not respect the rules. Sounds like “pie in the sky” but the only way to get there is “one step at a time”. The view from here///Gordon

  5. Wrayton says:

    During the “Climate Crisis Debate” Evans said “I want to be on the right side of history, I don’t want to have to hang my head as the temperatures and sea levels rise inexorably and increasingly frequent and intense flooding and drought and storms displace millions and chaos reigns and have to say to my sweet girl: ‘Well, we just kept on doing what we’d been doing because we liked living that way and it was easier and, well, we’re sorry we ruined your world.’”

    So are we waiting for Evans to start saving the world after this by-law?


    I suppose Andrew Black’s “we’re doomed when it comes to climate change…I base my pessimism on my lack of faith in humanity,” really begins at home.

    Talk – Action = Zero

    • Louis says:

      Sackville’s major contribution to global warming is the hot air coming out of the Council chamber.

      That being said, I’m glad to see that both of us, despite disagreeing on the issue, can agree that Council… talk a lot.

    • Rima Azar says:

      In my opinion, the climate is an excuse for some politicians to put either their fanatic or stupid side into action (imagine the damaging mix of both sides…). Of course, I say this whilst recognizing that yet some other politicians may be genuine (at least if we give them or keep giving them the benefit of the doubt…).

      To illustrate my point, check this politician from Québec (Plateau former Mayor, Luc Ferrandez). A while ago, he discouraged young people from having kids to fight climate change (, now he resigned from his posiition because of the climate emergency that did not yield any concrete action. Mind you, before that he proposed a sort of what I would call a “mini-green dictatorship” in Montreal that did not fly with his peers thank goodness, even in a province historically known to be to the left and truly ecological. I guess there are limits to silly ideas like “taxing meat, having 100% taxes on on-street and off-street-parking, taxing cars entering the downtown area”… etc. ( As per this article, this politician said that he may consider coming back to politics in ten years when people would be ready for his progressive ideas. Mmm… I thought the apocalypse would have occurred by then :). So why bother returning to public service?

      This being said, I will stop here as I am afraid his proposed ideas may inspire our local “illuminated” politicians, whether they are for real or…genuine hypocrites. Does the latter distinction make any difference actually?

  6. Tim Reiffenstein says:

    Before writing a new law giving ATVs more access, I would prefer that the Town make a modicum of effort to enforce current bylaws that prohibit ATVs on the Trans-Canada Trail within Town limits, and particularly the Middle Sackville sections of the trail. The Town has gates installed along the trail by the bridge by Silver Lake, just west of Middle Sackville Baptist, and out by Station St. Two of these are pretty much useless because ATVers have simply gone around them, creating deep unsightly scars in the ground. The other has been vandalized and cast into the ditch. I assume this is the sort of careless culture that ATVing encourages.

    The bylaw is in place since these trails are important resources for self-propelled transit and healthy living in the Town’s Recreational Master Plan. It is incompatible, and indeed dangerous, for ATVers to attempt to share these trails. I was nearly run-down several times last summer by ATVers who not only failed to share a trail that was not intended for their use, but acted like I was the nuisance. On one occasion I halted a trio of ATVers on a portion of the trail that they were ignorant was prohibited to them since the gates are in disrepair and because they were moving too fast to read the ineffective signage that banned them (what’s with the crappy too-small-to-read recreational signage in town anyways?). More concerningly, these ATVers who I learned hailed from PEI, told me that riders from Sackville’s local ATV club told them that the Trans-Canada-Trail was how they got to the ESSO!?

    There are more than enough dedicated ATV trails in this province. They do not need to invade trails where they don’t belong and vandalize these resources, leaving Sackville taxpayers to foot the bill for repairs that one wishes the town would care enough to effectively carry out. I am certain local ATVers are fully aware of these behaviors since in many cases it is their family members who are the nuisance. In my opinion, crafting a bylaw to allow them on Town streets will just open the floodgate to more irresponsible behavior on the Trans-Canada Trail. If you have walked across the floating boardwalk in the Waterfowl Park by the highway this spring you can easily notice the new ATV trail that has scarred the turf between the boardwalk and the eastbound lane. This new ad-hoc ATV trail ends just across from the Trans-Canada Trail section leading to Middle Sackville.

  7. Sharon Hicks says:

    At the Town Council meeting tonight (Tuesday May 14, 2019), Council approved the motion which would allow ATVs to use specified town streets.

    As Harold pointed out in an earlier comment, children as young as 6 years old are allowed to operate ATVs on trails, provided they comply with the regulations of taking a safety course and being within view of someone who is at least 19 years old.

    Therefore we will potentially have these same children riding down Wright Street, crossing Main Street at the McDonald’s exit, to access Mallard Drive. This happens to already be the busiest and most congested intersections in our town.

    By adding the ATV traffic at that intersection, it will simply add to the congestion, and it’s likely just a matter of time before there is an incident involving a child ATV rider.

    • brucewark says:

      Thanks for the comment Sharon. When I raised this issue during the Question Period at last night’s council meeting, both CAO Phil Handrahan and Councillor Bill Evans said it was their understanding that the provisions of the New Brunswick Motor Vehicle Act would take precedence over the town bylaw permitting ATVs to operate on designated town streets. The Motor Vehicle Act says: 78(1) No person, except a person expressly exempted or authorized under this Act, shall drive any motor vehicle or farm tractor upon a highway in the Province unless the person has a valid licence issued under the provisions of this Act. Section 81(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act says: The Registrar shall not issue any licence hereunder (a) to any person who is under the age of sixteen years.

      Although there are certain exemptions, I could not find any in the Act for operators of ATVs. I’ll check further, but if the Motor Vehicle Act does take precedence, it would appear that anyone without a valid driver’s licence won’t be able to ride on town streets.

      • Sharon Hicks says:

        Thanks Bruce for the update. It will be interesting to see what (if any) changes may be required for the Motor Vehicle Act if and when off-road vehicles are legally allowed on roads and streets.

  8. Logan says:

    This is not a decision that has been made lightly. This is something that has been 2 years in the making…..something that council has talked about many times and debated several times. This is an activity that is already being done in our town. Some people park their trailers as close to a trail start and/or a food/gasoline source and respectfully bring their vehicle into those places for service. The rest of the people do this activity illegally, driving on the streets, across the roads in an unsafe and illegal manner. Council was told this information not only by the applicants (the ATV Association) but by the RCMP as well.

    With this by-law council will be allowing ATV riders to access TWO STREETS (i guess you could say three if you count the bit of Main street at the intersection). Not the whole Town, but two streets…Mallard Lane and Wright Street so that they can park their trailers, meet fellow riders and access the abundant trail system that we have in our Town. They can gas up and buy food which supports our local economy (which was chosen as the most important issue facing Sackville on the last and most recent resident survey).

    As far as safety is concerned, the ATV riders will have to follow the rules of the road, specifically the Motor Vehicle Act which supersedes any of the ATV associations rules and policies. This means that the riders will be subject to the law like any other vehicle on the road… THE MOST policed intersection (one could argue piece of road) in the whole Town of Sackville. The majority of people who will be taking advantage of this by-law are the people who want that ATV riding experience. These are the people that have been doing this as a hobby for years and know that they are bound by the rules and regulations not just of the Motor Vehicle Act but by the fairly stringent policies of the ATV Federation of New Brunswick and other Provincial bodies.

    Concerning the environment, council is really not adding any more to the overall carbon footprint by adding this by-law. Just because ATV riders are now allowed to drive on two short lanes in the Town of Sackville does not mean that 100’s of people are going to go out and buy ATVs and Side-By-Sides…..they have been doing it already. This is merely a shuffling of carbon emissions that are out there already. As much as I and many other people want an end to fossil fuel use, which is one of the major steps as far as the climate crisis is concerned, the fact is we still live in this world of fossil fuel use that we’ve created and it won’t go away tomorrow. It will go away with concerted effort and a massive global change and I personally hope that’s the case. For now we need to be realistic as far as our economy is concerned and take advantage of this opportunity for our town and our community.

    The last word is that written into the agreement of this by-law is an out…..if something is not working then council has the ability to repeal this by-law with no questions asked. The ATV riders would go back to the way things were before and not be able to be on the streets designated. As someone who does not ride, and will not ride, and doesn’t understand the culture of this activity I still appreciate the possible economic spin-off for our Town (in various ways) which I feel we need so very much.

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