Town of Paradise undergoing public consultation process regarding future use of trail
By Mark Squibb | Vol. 32 No. 51 (March 5, 2020)
The President of the Newfoundland T’Railway Association, Rick Noseworthy, says the Town of Paradise isn’t being 100 percent accurate with how it has phrased its public correspondence regarding funding for the T’railway.
Back in November, council hired Tract Consulting to facilitate a public consultation session regarding future use of the six kilometres of T’railway that pass through Paradise.
The Town claims that funding to the tune of $161,000 has been allocated from the Trans Canada Trail Foundation to complete upgrades to the T’railway, but that in order to receive the money, the town must designate the six kilometres of T’Railway as non-motorized.
This of course means that ATV and snowmobile users would not be permitted to use the former railbed.
Overall, the cost to bring the trail up to Grand Concourse Association standard would be an estimated $600,000, with the town having to cover the additional $440,000.
Rick Noseworthy of the ATV riders group said that in his correspondence with the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, the town’s claim isn’t correct.
“I spoke to Trans Canada Trail this morning. They said it wouldn’t have been a flat no, it wouldn’t have been a flat yes. They would have re-evaluated,” said Noseworthy.
He explained that, so far as he knew, the foundation made a policy change in recent years that allowed them to fund motorized trails.
“If the Town of Paradise had come to them and said, ‘Now, this trail is going to be shared use,’ they would revaluate it. They wouldn’t say, ‘No.’ So, it’s not really fair to say it the way the Town of Paradise is saying it. Because Trans Canada Trial would certainly re-evaluate if they were told it was motorized.”
Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett said that as far he is aware, the phraseology is accurate.
“The Trans Canada Trail Foundation said they would give us $161,000 to upgrade the trail, but, we must make it non-motorised. The provincial government says if we make it mon-motorized, we must have the public consultation first,” he explained. “If it’s any different, I’ll have to go back and look at what the documentation says.”
Bobbett said he hopes that those who have concerns about the future of the trail will come out to the consultation session.
“At the end of the day we want to hear from all user groups. And there are many user groups,” said the mayor. “We want to hear from ATV users. We want to hear from the fat bike association. We want to hear from runners, from skiers, from snowshoers. That trail gets a lot of use. Some people have taken it as a foregone conclusion that we’re going to make it non-motorized to get the funding. That is probably the premise everyone is looking at with this. But we still want to hear from everybody, and that’s including the responsible ATV users.”
That public consultation has come in the form of an online survey, which closed on March 4, and a public meeting scheduled for March 10.
Noseworthy said that there’s no bad blood between the trail association and the Town, and he has high hopes for the March 10 meeting.
“From what I’m hearing, maybe this public meeting might solve the whole problem. I think the Town of Paradise are a great organization, I think they’re a great town, and I think that they’re really trying to work to make this happen,” said Noseworthy. “If the majority of the people want it motorized, they’ll get it. If the majority want it non-motorized, they’ll get it.”
Noseworthy said if the trail does become non-motorized, he hopes the Town will provide an alternative trail for ATV users (which Bobbett said the Town would be open to exploring,) but that he is concerned about the precedent it may set.
“If the Town of Paradise can close this, without accommodating multiuse snowmobilers and ATVers, what if the Town of Gander wanted to close it? Or what if Clarenville wanted to close it Or Whitbourne?” said Noseworthy.
It comes down to different user groups being willing to accommodate one another, he said.
“There’s trails around paradise that are 100 percent walking trails. And they should stay that way. ATVers have no business being on them. But a trail that is multi-close, I think users need to coexist by practising mutual respect,” Noseworthy argued. “I think ATVers should respect that there are walkers and that they should use care and caution, and walkers should understand that there are ATVs, and if they don’t want to walk on the trail with an ATV, maybe they should walk somewhere else. And if an ATVer doesn’t want to drive responsibly, and wants to drive fast and recklessly, maybe he should drive somewhere else. There’s no bad guy here. People have to work together.”