Bay Roberts ATV route is here to stay

By Mark Squibb/February 24, 2023

Bay Roberts council has voted to make a temporary ATV route along some of the town’s roadways a permanent fixture.

Council opened the route in May 2022, as a six-month pilot project.

Following the end of the pilot, council shuttered the route and wrapped plastic bags over its signs.

Last week, council voted to reopen it on a permanent basis.

Newly minted Recreation Director Dave Tibbo paraphrased and consolidated 34 pages of survey data, based on over 1,600 responses and recommended council vote to keep the ATV/side-by-side trail and make it a permanent route. Tibbo also recommended council send feedback to its Planning and Development and Tourism committees to see if there are ways to improve user experience.

Council Silas Badcock made the motion to do just that, and councillor Dean Franey seconded it.

Badcock asked whether the trailway would be seasonal or year-round. Town CAO Nigel Black said the regulations are year-round. He noted some other communities keep their trails open in winter for snowmobiles.

“Here, 90 percent of the time you can use a side-by-side at any point in the year until you get snow like we’ve got right now, which makes it impassable anyway,” said Black. “So, our thoughts on it are to make it year-round. At least it would allow people to use the trail in January and February when there is no snow.”

Badcock said people have told him they would like to see the trail open year-round.

Mayor Walter Yetman asked whether council could approve the motion to keep the track as a permanent fixture, and decide later on dates of operation once the committees have had a chance to look at it.

Black said that should council approve the recommendation as is, the trail would be open year-round, unless council amended the motion to open it seasonally instead.

Badcock asked when the plastic garbage bags covering the signs can be removed.

“A lot of people never even noticed the signs until we put bags on them,” joked councillor Frank Deering, which got a laugh out of council.

Franey noted the Town wasn’t grooming or plowing the trails, so the trail is seasonal by default.

He said he would like to see some better signage especially as not all users are familiar with Bay Roberts. He then relayed that one ATV vlogger uploaded a video to YouTube of himself touring through Bay Roberts on his ATV.

Mayor Yetman clarified that users are expected to travel with all four wheels on the gravel asphalt at junctures where the trail follows the main roadway.

He said some users had been driving with their ATV half on the asphalt and half off, which resulted in cars trying to pass them.

Instead, Yetman said ATV users should treat the roadway as if they were in their everyday vehicle, follow the posted speed limit (40 kilometres an hour), and try not to pull over to the side of the road.

“That keeps everybody safe and traffic flowing,” said Yetman.

Sticking to the pavement also prevents gravel and rocks being flicked onto the main road.

The motion to open the trail permanently passed unanimously.

The second motion, to send the matter to the committees for further review also passed unanimously.

Franey added, as a final word on the matter, that some residents have inquired about opening other roads for ATV use.

“As much as I very much support the trailway and I think it works, I’ve got to admit I am iffy on expanding it,” said Franey. “That’s just something I want to put out there. I’m comfortable with the trailway, I thought it worked fine.”

The route in question runs across the trestle in the Shearstown Estuary and crosses Route 70 to Cross Road. It then follows Cross Road to Water Street where it continues as far as Barracks Road and then back up to the old rail track.

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