And judging by the latest discussion around the council table, it’s not apt to happen.
The town and the RCMP have no concerns over members of the local ATV association travelling responsibly on the street.
“Where we are concerned is the rest of the users,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant Michel Lacroix during a discussion at an Aug. 24 committee of the whole meeting at Yarmouth Town Hall. He said on trails there are already ATV riders who don’t follow rules and have caused damage.
“Our concern is they’re going to bring this problem to Water Street,” he said, noting the public street, which has parking on both sides – and at times during events also has heavy pedestrian traffic – is not designed to accommodate all-terrain vehicle traffic.
Unlike other motor vehicle traffic that uses the street, not all ATVs are not licensed or registered, it was noted during the discussion. And how would the RCMP enforce this, Lacroix asked. He’s worried about situations where riders wouldn’t pull over for RCMP checks and would speed off instead.
“It’s going to be hard to figure out who is good and who is bad,” Lacroix said, adding about the enforcement, “It’s not something we would like to add to our list.”
Other councillors expressed similar concerns.
“Water Street is a public highway,” said Councillor Clifford Hood, saying only licensed and regulated vehicles should be on it. “I’m not going to vote for unlicensed, unregistered ATVs tearing up the street.”
Councillor Wade Cleveland said he knows ATV and trail association members are a responsible group and would act accordingly on Water Street. He said there is excitement over the possibility of linking the two trails. But, he acknowledged, it can’t be at the expense of public safety.
Still, everyone around the council table would like to see some type of solution found to link the trails.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood said she would still like to see some sort of link within town limits, noting that responsible ATV traffic is good for business and tourism.
She said it is too bad that concerns over irresponsible ATV use, and safety concerns as identified in Water Street case, derail things.
“It seems like most decisions we make goes down to the lowest common denominator, the few that ruin it for the rest. What a shame,” she said.
The conversation isn’t over, however.
The town wants to explore other options to connect the trails and it wants to have talks with the local ATV association that would also include the RCMP, the local MLA and town staff.
Earlier this year the province introduced nine pilot projects in the province to allow off-highway vehicles to access certain highway stretches linking trails together. In this region Weymouth was one of the pilot locations. Yarmouth was not.