Heather Moore

The marriage between ATV users and a body to police their activity is potentially a brittle bond.

But starting in spring, Islanders could see a pilot project that would allow ATV riders to legally use their machines on low traffic roads.

A low-traffic road is used seasonally, like in the spring or summer, but not plowed in winter.

Of course the regulations would first need the blessing of PEI’s Legislature since it would mean a change in the law.

Ok, fast forward to any number of rural back roads in the province, paved or otherwise. The odds of seeing or hearing an ATV are great any time of year.

It’s impossible to police many of these roads. The backdrop is typically wooded and provides any number of escape routes obviously giving ATVs the ability to out maneuver a police car.

ATVs are expensive machines and the majority of riders are responsible in operating their machines and respectful of other people’s property.

However, there is always the exception, hence the need for laws governing ATV usage.

One of the main purposes of any law is safety - protection for both the user and the general public.

So, if riders are going to ride anyway it might be best to designate sanctioned areas. It’s not a concession, it’s the justifiable thing to do.

There are any number of advantages in accommodating riders.

#1: Having access to less travelled routes would give riders access to many parts of the Island they currently have no access to.

As it stands now if an ATV rider wants to connect to an already established trail they may have to seek permission from a landowner or ride on pavement. (Property owners aren’t always easy to locate and it’s against the law to ride ATVs on pavement.)

#2: Organized ATV clubs already exist so there’s potential to expand on memberships or open the door to events that could attract out-of-province riders too. A potential plus for the economy.

The blanket of ATV operators often get a bum wrap when one rider breaks the law. It’s a puzzling response since those short on driving skills who operate a car or truck are criticized as one and not masses of drivers.

ATV riders like everyone else have a voice and they are calling for change. In changing times the prudent thing to do is accommodate their needs but with constraints in accordance with the law.

That takes us back to policing. For everyone’s sake the specifics need to be ironed out before opening the gates. Laws must be fixed and penalties for infractions enforced by both police and the courts.

Heather Moore is editor of The Eastern Graphic. She can be reached at editor@peicanada.com

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(1) comment

GA

"A low-traffic road is used seasonally, like in the spring or summer, but not plowed in winter." Currently, in the community of Southwest Lot 16, the Evangeline ATV club has already constructed an ATV trail (a very destructive one, I might add) that connects unpaved residential roads to PAVED residential roads. These roads are plowed in the winter. Should the government grant permission, The ATV trail will go directly through the community in front of resident's homes. The community only found out about the trail when they discovered extensive damage to waterways in the community this past summer - damage done by the Evangeline ATV club. So this ATV club constructed a trail route before the government even gave them permission to do so and with no notice to the community. I am not against ATV ownership, but ATV trails should not go through communities, right in front of people's homes, especially when the community says 'no thank you.' Residents of the community chose their homes in a rural setting for the peace and safety - their properties have value for those reasons. No one wants to find out that their property has become part of an ATV trail. The government's proposal for time of day restrictions as well as muffler and speed restrictions - will not work and do little to ease the minds of those that are living on and near this ATV trail. There are communities across PEI that have no idea yet their community may be becoming part of an ATV trail - Lot 16 only found out by discovering the destructive ATV trail this past summer. And as much as the Evangeline ATV club continues to boldly say that they had permission from all landowners in which their trail crosses - that is simply untrue. To add insult to injury, the ATV club also mislead two of the landowners by saying that they were making a 'small insignificant trail.' Rather they used a 325 CAT excavator and bulldozer to plow through an old growth forest and through precious waterways leading to the rich fishing/shellfish grounds of the Grand River ( which flows into the Malpeque Bay). A great deal of disrespect was shown to the environment, the community and those that fish in the area. I ask the PEI government why are you striving to please the few and ignore the many?

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