Sackville Town Council approves ATVs on busy streets

Coun. Andrew Black moved motion to approve ATV bylaw

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.

Coun. Shawn Mesheau

“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.”

Age restrictions

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, children as young as 14 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 drive ATVs in the designated area.

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.

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36 Responses to Sackville Town Council approves ATVs on busy streets

  1. Harold says:

    “unintended consequences” are seldom discussed and often overlooked in our community and society —

    • D strong says:

      well said …..tragic decision

    • Logan says:

      One of the outcomes of unintended consequences is an unexpected benefit!! I anticipate this to be the result of the decision. It’s fortunate that most decisions made in life are not completely and fully informed. That is, knowing every possible outcome of any action. Our lives would be so boring without the possibility and the challenge of the unknown.

  2. patricia leblanc says:

    Thank You Shawn for your good judgement.

  3. Phyllis Wheaton says:

    i’m just waiting for accidents to happen, seen congestion at the lights already just last month!

  4. Rima Azar says:

    I am personally all for parental responsibility for their own children and/or individual freedom and own sense of responsibility in life. Thus, I do not mind driving behind an ATV in Sackville for s short period of time and just being more careful to keep them as safe as possible. Ultimately, if they want to take such risk in life (+ pleasure too), it is their choice.

    As for the congestion, I do not mind it. OK, perhaps it is easier on me to think so as we do not live near the Main Exit. By Bridge street Exit, I welcome more traffic (it would be exotic for us 😊).

    Despite this, I also salute Councillor Shawn Mesheau’s and Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken’s wisdom on the matter. This being said, I also trust that our other Councillors and, especially our RCMP safety experts, know what they are doing too. They must have taken their time thinking about this issue before voting for it. Yes, accidents could happen (but they can happen even whilst walking or running stairs). With some luck, everyone will remain safe on our roads, human beings and dogs too.

    This being said, what worries me more is learning from this article (thank you Mr. Wark) that 14 year-old folks may ride “a motorized scooter or moped on New Brunswick streets or highways if they hold a class 9 driver’s licence”. Of course, each 14-year old is unique and may be quite mature (sometimes more than narcissistic adults 😊– of course provided there is no chemical substance is in their system whilst driving). I had a 13-year-old friend (ok a first boyfriend 😊) who had a scooter in dangerous times in Beirut…We survived scooters and shelling. Still, it remains risky to ride scooters on highways, especially that the danger often comes from others around us when we drive or ride a vehicle. Let’s also keep in mind the following data (2017) from the Canadian Pediatric Society ( They tell us that about 34% of ATV-related mortality (= deaths) involve Canadian children youth under 16 years of age, even if “they represent a small portion of all ATV drivers or passengers”.

    • Beirut, the Paris of the middle east … a far cry from this sleepy town where the youth look for their own recreational pursuits in a town that has conveniently forgotten their simple request for a concrete skate park in 2013 .. so what if they are rural minded youth make their own fun with ATVs and challenge themselves with motorized machinery.. I like that they are enjoying themselves and its just laughable to hear people talking about them like they are coddled babies when they’re not…… I’d even wager to say they are more tuned in and physically fit and aware than a lot of zombie boomer/elders driving cars around here.. plenty of old people cause accidents! People riding around religiously on bicycles who think they own the roads can be really arrogant when it comes to ‘sharing’ the road huh? 14 is the new 30 .. these kids are savvy in more ways than just the internet… don’t overlook their abilities.

      • Rima Azar says:

        “Beirut, the Paris of the middle east …”. Always moving to hear, thank you Sally (OK, I may be homesick today :)). You can see the beauty of Beirut in this short video called *Rise above Lebanon*, if I may share here: .

        It is very well done, although a bit odd that the Ministry of Tourism that produced it did not include scenes of some snow that we see on the highest peaks of mountains all year long (unless I miss it). I do not know if you know that the name of the country means *yogurt* in Arabic (“Mount Lebanon” comes from *lbn* = “white” in old Phoenician root, in reference to the country’s snow peaks).

        Now, if you suspect that I may be paid by their government to promote tourism, just know that every spring, I search the net for our newest NB or (Atlantic) Canadian promotional videos. I share with my relatives there or elsewhere to convince them to visit Canada. Perhaps I am paid by both countries. Who knows :)? I am joking. It is called patriotic love and it is free.

  5. Shawn Bowes says:

    I would suggest a trial period, to ensure all laws would be followed. Also, insurance and registrations, be somehow monitored. If for example, after 30 days, things are not working out, council would have an out.

  6. Sharon Hicks says:

    I just read through the CBC article which Bruce linked to this story. The article reports on the number of deaths related to ATV incidents over the past number of years, as well as a lot of other ATV-related statistics.

    The numbers alone are interesting, for sure, but I found this portion of the report to be the most enlightening. According to trails advocate David Peterson, who was part of a 2001 task force calling for enhanced enforcement of the ATV federation’s regulations, the provincial government didn’t act on most of the task force’s recommendations because of a “lack of political will”, citing unwillingness on the part of politicians to risk losing votes from ATV federation members.

    There are a lot of interesting numbers arising from this report …

    5.6 = average number of ATV related DEATHS in NB, per year
    the majority of deaths were males
    25% = percentage of ATV fatalities who were NOT wearing helmets

    284 = average number of ATV related INJURIES in NB, per year
    (injuries ranged from sprains, to fractures, to more serious events such as brain bleeds)
    $12,994,082 = total cost of ATV-related injuries in NB, PER YEAR
    $15,215 = average cost per ATV-related injury in NB

    770,633 = total population of NB
    65,000 = total number of registered ATVs in NB (an average of 1 machine for every 12 residents)
    22,500 = total number of registered members of NB ATV Federation (= 2.9 % of population)
    (this indicates there are a lot of ATVs registered to people who are not members of the ATV

    10 = number of off-road vehicle enforcement officers in NB – for the entire province
    (= 1 enforcement officer for every 2,250 registered members of ATV federaton)
    10 = number of instructors with the ATV Federation – also for the entire province.
    (= average of 1 instructor for every 2,250 registered members of ATV federation)

    Numbers speak volumes.

  7. Patrick says:

    The people spouting ATV Doom and Gloom need to get a grip. They remind me of the type of people in the 50’s that said Rock n’ Roll and Elvis Presley would be the end of our youth. ATV’s and Side by Side vehicles are safer than motorcycles and bicycles for God sake. People aren’t asking to ride them around like cars to get groceries or go to work. They simply want to be able to access trails, gas stations, restaurants etc. ATV’s generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the province every year.

    Are people hurt or killed riding them each year? Sadly, yes. Yet thousands of people are killed in cars and motorcycles every year and we don’t ban them. Most ATV owners are responsible and the ones breaking the laws and driving like Kamikaze pilots will do so regardless of the law, it’s the same with cars. Harsh laws only hurt the law-abiding.

    • Kelly Alder says:

      They can already access all the fuel they need and it might do some people good to walk across the street from the Esso/McDonald’s parking area to get to Tims or other places. It’s a short walk, maybe 50 yards or so. They can already unload at the end of Wright street and drive to that parking lot to get fuel and food. Not sure how this new amendment changes access to these services?

  8. Angela Varner says:

    Wow the high nose is strong with this one folks! First of all we live in a farming, hunting, fishing, trail driving community. We don’t live in Moncton or Toronto or Halifax. Part of that community is all-terrain vehicles. TRACTORS cause more of a disruption on the roads than 4 wheelers and they will drive from middle of Sackville out to Midgic. They just want to get up to the gas station grab a snack, fuel up, get some lunch and head back out on the trails. No surprise coming from Mesheau though! He’s already made it clear on how inconvenient it is for him to hear the bikes going up his street.
    Not to mention the ATV club in Sackville does a heck of a lot of good keeping trails taken care of helping in the community and bringing awareness to the importance of getting out and enjoying the wildlife. Why on Earth would people even begin to argue the congestion at the intersection. There isn’t congestion. We have 2 traffic lights in this town. The intersection in question is not an issue for an ATV or side by side to pass through with vehicles.
    Some of our high and mighty counsillors and deputy mayoe need to take a few steps forward and stop living in the past. This town isn’t just pretty flowers in window boxes and ducks.

  9. Rob Poirier says:

    This is excellent news! Congratulations to the Councillors who voted in favour! There is no downside. A little research will show you that it has been working in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and many other states I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s about time. Now, can you help us get something similar happening in Nova Scotia? Well done!

    By the way, this story is clearly written from a negative viewpoint-typical.. Was the CBC link really necessary?

    • brucewark says:

      Hi Rob:

      Thanks so much for your comment. I try to write my stories from as factually neutral a point of view as I can manage. In this case, I agree there is a negative tinge to my coverage because I’m not sure why, as Kelly Alder points out, ATVs need to travel the length of Mallard Drive, through that busy McDonald’s intersection and then over most of Wright Street when they could be unloaded at the end of Wright where the trails begin. As far as I can tell, there is no need for ATVers, some as young as 14, to be traversing that route. I link to CBC stories when they provide a wider context. In this case, the CBC link shows safety concerns and a lack of law enforcement. To put it bluntly, I’m wondering why off-road vehicles are suddenly considered on-road vehicles in so many New Brunswick towns.

      On the other hand, I do worry that readers might think I’m using my reporting to advance my own point of view. I guess I’m trying to figure this highly controversial issue out.

      Thanks again.

    • Kelly Alder says:

      I will say one thing about your post that is totally unfounded , is that Bruce Wark is biased. He’s just reporting what actually is going on and allowing the citizens/voters of sackville express their points of view on various issues. I drive at least twice a year from Nb to Florida and travel many areas that are off the interstates and I cannot share your experience of seeing atvs freely travelling the same roadways as vehicles do. Yes there are some areas that allow golf carts on various secondary roads but these municipalities require them to have proper insurance and yearly safety inspections as well as all the same functioning lights and more importantly they cannot be driven by anyone without a valid drivers licence. Thanks again Bruce for the various articles as they are always, I believe ,a fair point of view, even if I don’t always agree with the subjects, you certainly report the facts.

    • Azi says:

      I would write a positive note like yours only if a few years have passed and no one was badly injured or dead in Sackville as a result of this. Also, one of the reasons people choose to live in Sackville and not Moncton (or Utah or Arizona,…) is nice and quiet. ATV’s are too loud and too noisy to be frequently on the streets. They are not comparable with many cars including farming trucks when it comes to noise.

    • Les Hicks says:

      Hi Rob, I just re-read the article after reading your comments about it being written from a negative view point and I really don’t see that myself. I personally don’t have a strong opinion about this issue one way or another but some of the possibly negative points that were presented by others in Bruce’s article (ie : Shawn Mesheau’s comment about the people who are in favour of the by-law having expressed concerns about ATV’s not being designed for riding on asphalt, and the lack of information available on how the RCMP plan to enforce the revised regulations) raise some important questions. A link to a news report detailing ATV related fatalities seems very relevant to the story considering that many individuals have expressed concerns about possible safety issues involved with ATV’s, some driven by people as young as 14, sharing the streets with other traffic through a busy intersection. Regardless of some persons expressed opinion that 14 year old kids are savvy to the point of having the same judgement of 30 year olds (which is a ridiculous thing to say), there do seem to be some legitimate safety concerns with this by-law. Is it possible that it’s the facts of the case that are presented in the article that make you uncomfortable with it?

  10. Rima Azar says:

    In a world where cybersecurity seems to be trendy 🙂 (paradoxically more in the Western world than elsewere), it is refreshing to see a platform where different opinions are still tolerated. Thank you Mr. Wark for your professionalism.

  11. Wrayton says:

    Total lack of due diligence on the part of the Town and council. They recently upheld a moratorium on drive-thrus because of perceived traffic congestion, yet six year old children on ATVs at the same intersection is a-ok!

  12. Sharon Hicks says:

    Thank you Bruce for posting this updated information. This confirms facts that several of us had previously presented to Councillors and to the public – the fact that the minimum age for ATV riders on provincial trails is indeed 6 years old.

    One must realize that Lobbyists for any organization will attempt to promote only the positive aspects, and either hide or gloss over any negative details.

    It might also be worth noting that people who have been expressing opinions against this new bylaw have not been speaking against ATV use in general. It is instead a SAFETY ISSUE.

    This updated information from this morning also points out the fact that Sackville Town Council was not “FULLY INFORMED” when they cast their votes on Bylaw 258, regarding the use of ATVs on specific town streets.

    This is, unfortunately, yet one more example of our Town Council being provided INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION when they are required to vote on motions, decisions, bylaws, tenders, etc.


    • Rima Azar says:

      The information is public on the GNB website. It took me a few seconds to find it, Sharon 🙂 ( where we can read the following:
      “Persons six to 11 years of age:
      ATVs – engine size not to exceed 70 cc (for 2009 and earlier model years);
      motorized snow vehicles – engine size not to exceed 120 cc; and
      recreational-use dirt-bikes – engine size not to exceed 120 cc and the operator must be able to touch the balls of both feet on the ground when straddling the bike’s seat”.

      This being said, 6 years old seems too young for me too, especially compared to other places where it seems to be 10… or even 16 years old, if I am not mistaken (i.e., Québec). I wonder how many 6-year-old kids do ride an ATV in NB, even if the law technically allows it. Likely not too many, I suspect.

      • Sharon Hicks says:

        Thanks Rima for this additional source. Interesting that the 10-yr old guidelines indicate the rules are strictly for ATV s operating on “closed courses”, and stipulates that a ‘closed course’ must not cross or intersect with a public roadway. That would apply to riders of ALL ages.

        My, how things can change in 10 years.

      • Helen Shaw says:

        There is one less now! I live in NS and a six year old kid just lost his life driving a 4 wheeler, within miles from where I live. How sad is that?

  13. Mike says:

    google Jericho ATV festival over 6000 bikes riding on the street?

    • Kelly Alder says:

      A two day event, which in my mind would be a great thing if that would come to Sackville. Would be a destination for ATVers from all over the place. Would even make it possible for them to maybe support our local gas station convenience store as well as other businesses not fortunate to be included in the part of Sackville that council continues to seem to allow whatever is asked for. Would be great if the local club would maybe push for an event like this in the future.

      • Rima Azar says:

        Annual festivals like this would be a golden opportunity to invigorate and diversify our town’s economy. A clever way to boost Exit 506 indeed with its Gas bar/convenience store, and Sackville’s businesses all the way to the downtown and elsewhere. The visitors would ideally use our hotels/motels as well as restaurants and hopefully shops too. Yes, it could be a bit loud yet profitable for tourism.

      • Rima Azar says:

        What is a one- or two-day event in a whole year :)? Yes noisy and maybe muggy (depending on the weather) but it would be limited in time (up to 48 hours?).

        In Montreal, we have lived with the Grand Prix for decades. It is noisy for 72 hours, even for those living relatively far away. Regardless, the whole city has learned to come together on this occasion for the sake of prosperity. You can imagine the economic impact of such an internationally successful event.

        This being said, Sackville is neither Jericho nor Montreal (even if “Beirut is the Paris of the Middle East” :)). Ok, seriously, there are ATVs’ festivals in parts of Québec as well (e.g., in Gaspésie, etc.), not just in Jericho.The economic impact of this touristic industry on the province is large. ATVs seem to be more popular than snowmobiles, as per “l’Actualité”.

        Of course, other types of festivals are “sexier” to other people, including myself. I personally can envision a festival of ice cream (I am yet to see this dream come true :)!) or of fruits, chocolate, or any other food festivals like those in villages across Europe. Same for Lebanon where they seem to have a summer festival in villages for literally every fruit, as my dad jokes :).

        Regardless of the types of festival (ATVs or other…), the idea here is to find ways to support local businesses and re-invent our economy.

  14. Logan says:

    I have copied and pasted my reply to a previous story Mr. Wark had posted:

    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). It is also important to note that council has left these streets as “streets” in bylaw 258, not “off-road vehicle designated trails” which some municipalities have done to get around rules of the road. Which means they are policed like any other road with any other type of vehicle traveling on it… the laws of the Motor Vehicle Act.

    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.

  15. Dave McKay says:

    This can hardly be considered exercising due diligence; in the nearly two years since this was first discussed the details relating to age restrictions were not determined by the town’s chief administrator and at least one Councillor. How does one make this sort of decision without knowing these details?

  16. Rima Azar says:

    I had time to kill and I just read By-Law 258 carefully. We are talking about a distance of just 364 and 341 meters 🙂 on Mallard and Wright street respectively. What is the big deal then? I can hardly see it as far as I am concerned. Had I been a Town Councillor, I would have voted for this as well.

    • Les Hicks says:

      Hi Rima,

      From reading through the various comments about this subject it seems that most of the people worried about the impact of the by-law are expressing safety concerns related to the busy intersection, rather than to the short lengths of travel on the two streets concerned.

      One of the commenters also made a valid point about the inconsistency of town council imposing a moratorium on new drive-thru restaurants due to traffic congestion and environmental concerns, yet passing a by-law allowing ATV’s to use the same streets and busy intersection, which will definitely add to the congestion and environmental impact, and in addition will involve the possible safety concerns that many residents have expressed concern about. In both instances, in making their decisions, town council weighed the benefit of increased business volume versus the negative impact on traffic congestion, safety, and environmental impacts. I find it hard to understand why one proposal was allowed and the other wasn’t.


      Les Hicks

      • Rima Azar says:

        Hello Lex:

        Thank you for reply to my last comment.

        I also see (+ do not see) the contradiction you are reporting with the ban on drive thru.
        I will try to explain my point of view below.

        In my mind, I never bought the excuse of the environment of some of of our Town Councillors with regard to the ban of drive thru. However, I totally see your point. Since I think I know how to give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar, focusing on this particular matter only (not looking at the voting history), I find that the vote seemed reasonable to me.

        Without pointing to any politician in particular in any specific country, I personally think that decision makers sometimes use whatever they find handy or trendy to justify any position that would keep them in power or to simply score political points. This can include excuses such as the environment, the climate, science (when it suits them), any group of people, including kids of the world sadly.

        To come back to this story, who knows? Perhaps the ban could have been motivated by other consideration such as favouring key business players located on Main Street over the business located on Exit 506 (Gas Bar station)?

        Mind you, I wrote the sentence above and I have nothing against any business located on this exist, including the biggest one. I love entrepreneurs. I just like to see a bit more competition in our economy. Competition usually lowers prices or offers consumers more choices.

        To say this differently, yes I am a faithful client of Mr./Ms. Alders’ gas station (I live nearby and I appreciate their service). However, I am not a “fanatic” client :). I support all businesses. Specifically, I often travel by bus for work (I shop whilst waiting for it). I enjoy tasty ice creams (i.e., I like the soft ice cream of the Big Stop in Au Lac or their products here in town. By the way, Lindor Ice cream of Painted Poney is to die for too… and today I spotted a new place near the Sackville Commons :)). More seriously, I find it unfair that Exit 506, specifically the Alders’ business, is not getting an equal treatment as the other Exist of our town (drive thru ban).

        To come back to By-Law 258, the short distance would reduce the probability of accidents. I say this whilst recognizing that Wright street may be touchy. One must be more careful there. However, it is also the responsibility of the ATV riders.

        For me, this By-Law is a sort of a reasonable compromise to accommodate those ATV riders: How do you want them to bridge the pieces of roads together to be able to gas, etc.? Mind you, I am NOT an expert of trails or ATVs. I just think that people are free to have fun, as they wish. In my mind, public streets of a town belong to all of us. So, why can’t we simply learn to share them with everyone?

        To conclude, I say this and I also like Shawn Bowes’ suggestion about a trial period of 30 days. We do not know if this comment is in favour of this story or not. However, we can see a spirit of compromise. Perhaps such as suggestion can reassure those concerned by safety?

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