The Town of Paradise is going back to the Trans Canada Trail Foundation for further clarification regarding $161,000 in funding that council had previously said hinged on the Town designating the six kilometres of Paradise T’Railway as non-motorized (meaning that ATV and snowmobile users would not be permitted to use the trail.)
Rick Noseworthy, President of the Avalon T’Railway Corporation, had contested the Town’s claim that the funding for the T’railway depended on the route being non-motorized.
On Tuesday, council agreed to go back to the foundation to see if it can receive still receive funding if the trail remains open to motorized users.
“There’s two streams that we could apply for, non-motorized or to keep it motorized, and I think we applied under non-motorized, but I think we could reapply,” explained mayor Dan Bobbett.
CAO Lisa Niblock clarified it further.
“We applied for it that way at the time when we were in consultation with them because we were told we would have more of an opportunity to avail of funding if it was made non-motorized,” Niblock said. “So that’s what we did. But since that time, and we’ve expressed to them the amount of opposition we’ve had to changing it, they’ve said that that’s a possibility that they could review it, so we think it’s prudent on our part, because the public consultation was so polarising. It was almost 50/50 down the split.”
The public consultation was facilitated by Tract Consulting, which has plenty experience working with trail projects in the province.
“The consultation included a survey and a public meeting, and found an equal divide in support for motorized and non-motorized use of the T’railway,” said Councillor Patrick Martin.
Tract Consulting, he added, provided four options for the Town to consider: do nothing; develop an ATV strategy while making the six kilometres non-motorized; ban ATV use; or create an ATV lane on the T’railway.
Council has earmarked $700,000, including the aforementioned $161,000 donation, for upgrades to the trail.
Niblock said the Town ought to seek clarification from the foundation before making decisions as to the future of the trail.
There was no motion, and therefore no vote cast, but it was agreed the Town would seek the clarification from the foundation.
All members of council spoke to the split between the two groups, as well as the positive dialog and discussion, and apparent desire for all to work together towards a solution.
“It was pretty obvious that both sides, those that are wanting to be motorized, and those that are wanting it to be non-motorized, both just really want to work together,” said Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Laurie. “So, I think it is important that we go back and request the funding with it being a motorized portion of the trail. I think we need to make that change, and if not, we need to go back and have a look again at the recommendations.”
Mayor Bobbett agreed that both groups want to see the trail upgraded, and seem willing to work together.
Laurie further clarified that it almost seemed wrong to class people as ‘motorized’ or ‘non-motorized,’ as everyone seemed so willing to cooperate.
“I think we have to listen to both sides and see if we can find an equal balance for everybody,” summarized Martin.
Councillor Kimberly Street noted the importance, if the Town did decide to go the route of setting up an alternative route for ATV users, of doing so in a timely fashion.
“ATV users said at that past consulation that they had a considerable issue with another community, which said they would have an ATV strategy created for them. And that was more than 10 years ago,” said Street.
Bobbett said installing an alternate route would be challenging, as it would involve the purchase of private land.