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Bay Roberts opens Water Street, Cross Road to ATV traffic

By Craig Westcott/May 19, 2022

The Town of Bay Roberts has finally approved a new route that will allow ATVs to pass through a residential section of town and connect with the Town of Spaniard’s Bay— on a trial basis at least.

Council and staff spent the better part of two years considering various options to allow ATV traffic through town, both to make passage easier for the drivers and to provide economic opportunities for local businesses. The Town has also consulted with the provincial government because the access being requested by riders includes passage through an environmentally sensitive estuary shared by both towns.

Chief Administrative Officer Nigel Black brought council up to speed on the new route ahead of the vote on the motion that took place last week.

Black explained the new route was agreed upon after a meeting of the two committees in town that have been dealing with the issue, discussions with Spaniard’s Bay, and a review of the concerns expressed by residents about previously proposed routes. Those concerns included worries about ATVs passing through a school zone and near the Wilbur Sparkes sports complex, as well as lack of economic benefit.

“We came up with a new route that we think addresses those concerns,” said Black. “It eliminates some of the downsides of our previous two option system. Number one it eliminates the confusion of having two different routes that had multiple times (that ATVs could use them). We also felt that it eliminated the off-road traffic near the school and the recreation complex. The route that we’re proposing now would have some potential economic benefits as it does go by several local businesses and one hotel.”

The route will run across the trestle in the Shearstown Estuary and cross Route 70 to Cross Road, instead of continuing along the former railway track. It will then follow Cross Road all the way to Water Street where it will continue along Water as far as Barracks Road and then back up to where it meets the undeveloped portion of the old rail track.

“So, it’s a bit longer, but at the same time it avoids some of the problems that we were dealing with before,” Black said. “At the end of the day, we thought this was a better alternative than the previous alternatives and we’re recommending that council now adopt the regulations and within the regulations is this route, and at the same time direct staff to implement the new route effective May 20th for a six-month trial period.”

Mayor Walter Yetman said this version of the route and regulations have been thoroughly considered. 

Councillor Dean Franey, who was part of council’s planning committee that looked at routes, said they chose to include Cross Road instead of completely using the old rail bed so that ATVs would have to follow normal traffic rules.

“We felt that by doing this, it would be a little less intrusive on the residents as the ATVs would not be travelling through what you could consider their back yards where the track is,” Franey said. “And the other good thing about this one is, the concerns we heard from the get-go were always about Eric Dawe Drive and the schools and Wilbur Sparkes, and we’re not in an ideal situation in Bay Roberts with the way the track ran through the town, so this was the best compromise we could come up with to totally avoid the school zone. I’m okay with that.”

Councillor Silas Badcock, who was also extensively involved in laying the groundwork to allow ATVs on Bay Roberts streets, said the new route will hopefully result in some economic spin-off.

“From the little bit of reading and research I’m doing, it looks like people are coming from out of province, not only in-province (to ride ATV trails), so hopefully they’ll avail of the hotel and local businesses,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour, who raised the most objections over past route proposals because of their impact on residents, said he can support this one.

“I said all along that I would love to see Bay Roberts as part of this,” Seymour noted. “It checks some boxes, because there is some economic spin-off to this, because of the businesses and that’s good to see.”

Seymour’s only concerns rested with the length of the pilot project, and with the operating times being allowed for ATVs – which is seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The deputy mayor said he would like to see the Town consult with residents along the route when the pilot project is over, before it renews the policy.

“I think that’s a good idea,” agreed Black.

As for the operating times, Seymour argued 10 p.m. is a bit late to have ATVs riding by people’s homes and he would like to see the cut-off at 9 p.m.

Mayor Yetman said council won’t have to wait six months to make changes if there are problems. “Any concerns that come up within those six months, or in two weeks we can address,” he said.

Franey said in setting the hours, the committees looked at the Town’s regular “quite time” regarding noise, which starts at 11 p.m., and just moved it back an hour from that. 

Councillor Frank Deering added one of the reasons the committees picked Cross Road for ATV travel is that the bikes will have to follow the posted speed limit and so won’t be roaring past people’s houses.

“I’ll go so far as to say that in six months we’ll even want to open up more streets in our town to the bikes,” Deering allowed.

Councillor Perry Bowering said he is glad to see the route now avoids the school and Wilbur Sparkes complex, but suggested it should still be put to the public for feedback before council votes on it.

Franey said as the new route is being approved on a trial basis, it will be up to the ATV drivers to “prove themselves” to the public that they can operate safely on public streets. “So, to any ATV users out there listening, be respectful,” Franey advised.

Just before Mayor Yetman called the vote, Deputy Mayor Seymour raised one last consideration; that anyone living in Coley’s Point will not be able to access the route because they are not directly connected to it.

“That’s why I said that in six months time I can see that we’re going to open up more streets,” said Deering. “I would have liked to see this go right up through Country Road.”

Yetman said council will have to see how it goes. “This is a great start,” he ventured.

Put to the vote, all but councillor Bowering voted in favour of approving the new route and regulations.

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