ATV riders want Town Council’s help in getting the right to ride their all-terrain vehicles legally on the Trans Canada Trail that runs to Sackville from Cape Tormentine and the Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area.
“We want to work with you not against you,” Paul Branscombe, President of the Tantramar ATV Club told town council Tuesday night. “Our goal is to get the shortest way from Cape Tormentine to the town of Sackville.”
Branscombe referred to a letter he wrote to council in July asking for a formal letter of support to help persuade provincial officials to lift restrictions on ATV use of the old rail bed that forms the Trans Canada Trail.
He pointed out that getting the right to use the Trail would enable ATV riders to link up with Mallard Drive and Wright Street, the two downtown roads that council voted to allow them access to earlier this year. ATV riders began using these roads in July after the provincial minister of public safety granted his approval.
“We want to let you know that we are open to implementing reasonable restrictions such as speed limits and dust control measurements etc.,” Branscombe told council. “It’s also an economical boost to the community,” he said, adding that ATVs would bring more tourists.
Branscombe said that Vance Johnson, the New Brunswick ATV Federation’s trail co-ordinator has been making progress in persuading provincial officials to lift restrictions on ATV use on the Trans Canada Trail and that a letter of support from Sackville Town Council would be very helpful.
He admitted there would be other hurdles to overcome including either securing the right to cross the TransCanada Highway to get access to Mallard Drive or else using the Main Street overpass near the high school.
At the same time, he anticipated likely opposition from town council.
“When we met with the mayor prior to this, I had a discussion with him and he said there would be zero support from the council,” Branscombe said, adding that while that didn’t surprise him, he knew the RCMP would support using the old rail bed trail as a safe route into town.
He also pointed to something that many who now hike, cycle, walk their dogs, snowshoe or ski on the trail may not know. Every year from December 1st to April 15th, the trail belongs exclusively to snowmobilers.
“They (snowmobilers) are the only ones legally allowed to travel the rail bed at that time,” Branscombe said. “That means people cannot walk on it, cannot ski on it, cannot truss a snowshoe or anything,” he added, because snowmobilers have the “sole right” to use the trail during the winter months.
“We’re not looking for sole right, we want to share with you,” he said.
Poul Jorgensen, executive director of the NB Trails Council that oversees the Trans Canada Trail confirmed that snowmobilers hold a provincial lease that stretches back many years granting them exclusive rights to the trail.
But as for ATVers using the Trans Canada, Jorgensen said “we’re dead set against it,” adding that ATVs pose a safety hazard for everyone including hikers and horseback riders.
“They also tear up the surface of a trail that we’ve invested a lot of money in,” he said.
Meantime, at the conclusion of Branscombe’s presentation on Tuesday, Mayor Higham said he would canvass councillors by e-mail to see if anyone wanted to put the ATV Club’s request for a letter of support on the agenda for next week’s meeting.