In a 6-1 vote, Sackville Town Council passed a bylaw on Tuesday authorizing all-terrain vehicles to mix with regular traffic, including inter-provincial buses as well as fuel and transport trucks, on Mallard Drive and most of Wright Street.
Bylaw 258 also allows ATV riders as young as 14 to cross the busy intersection at Main Street on their way into and out of the McDonald’s/Esso parking lot.
If as expected, the bylaw gets final approval from the provincial minister of public safety, ATVs will be able to operate legally in an already congested area where there are five restaurants, two fast food drive-thrus, two gas stations with convenience stores, liquor and cannabis outlets, a grocery store, the Coastal Inn, a Home Hardware and the town’s Visitor Information Centre.
Six councillors, Andrew Black, Joyce O’Neil, Bruce Phinney, Allison Butcher, Bill Evans and Michael Tower voted in favour of the bylaw with only Councillor Shawn Mesheau voting against. Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, who has spoken and voted against the ATV bylaw in the past, was filling in for an absent Mayor Higham and therefore, could not vote except to break a tie.
Mesheau said that since council gave preliminary approval to the ATV bylaw last month, he’s received feedback both for and against.
“It’s kind of been split down the middle,” Mesheau said, adding however, that even those in favour have questioned whether all-terrain vehicles are designed to operate on paved streets.
He said he’s also heard concerns about the lack of law enforcement with ATVs already operating illegally in the area as well as in more remote parts of town such as on Walker Road and King Street.
“I know the RCMP kind of signed off on this [bylaw],” Mesheau said, “but I’m not sure the RCMP provided us with any kind of detail as to how they plan on approaching that in the Mallard Drive area and how they plan on enforcing it.”
Later, during the public question period, both the town’s chief administrator, Phil Handrahan and Councillor Bill Evans said that as far as they knew, only licensed drivers over age 16, would be allowed to operate ATVs on the designated streets.
However, Warktimes has confirmed that under the provincial Off-Road Vehicle Act, 14-year-olds who have completed an approved safety training course and who are accompanied and supervised by an adult who has also completed such a course, would be allowed to ride smaller ATVs in the designated area.
Fourteen-year-olds can already ride a motorized scooter or moped on New Brunswick streets or highways if they hold a class 9 driver’s licence.
For the results of a CBC investigation in which New Brunswick recorded the highest number of ATV and snowmobile deaths in Atlantic Canada, click here.
For earlier coverage, click here.