Sackville town council has taken another step in its support of allowing ATVers access to Wright Street and Mallard Drive.
Council approved first reading of a bylaw this month to authorize all-terrain vehicles to operate on those two public roadways. But the new legislation will still require second and third reading to pass as well as a final stamp of approval from the province.
Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager of corporate projects, said this bylaw is unique in that it requires more than just a council vote to be implemented.
“Once it’s endorsed by council . . . because it involves the motor vehicle act, it then needs to be shipped off to the department of public safety for approval by the minister. And after that takes place, ATVs can then use the two portions of those streets.”
This move stems from a request made by the New Brunswick All-Terrain Vehicle Federation back in the fall of 2017, when council was asked to send a letter of support to the provincial Department of Public Safety, endorsing the federation’s application. The town then followed that up with a draft bylaw, which was sent and has been under review by various provincial departments since early 2018.
The town received comments from the Department of Public Safety in February of this year, which requested a couple of slight amendments to the draft bylaw but no major changes.
Burke said town staff has also met with Sackville RCMP on this file to review the bylaw and noted that there were no major complications foreseen in allowing this access. But he did point out that, if approved, both town staff and the RCMP will monitor the situation on an ongoing basis.
“In the event that it does cause safety concerns or it does become an issue for ourselves or the RCMP, we can change it back,” said Burke.
Coun. Bill Evans said having that ability to revoke the bylaw later on it if the municipality finds the sharing of roadways is not working is what convinced him to vote in favour.
“We’re test driving this,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out, we can change it or repeal it. So I’m willing to give it a shot.”
ATVers want to be able to legally travel along Mallard and Wright, not only to get access to their trails but also to be able to use the services in that area - including the restaurants, gas stations, hotel and grocery store. They also propose to use the town’s Visitor Information Centre parking lot at the end of Mallard Drive as a loading/unloading area.
“There’s obviously some economic benefits that this would bring to the town and merchants of the area,” said Burke.
When the issue first arose with council in 2017, several councillors voiced strong safety concerns about adding more traffic into the mix at the busy intersection at Wright Street and Mallard Drive although they also pointed out that ATVers already regularly travel through that area and so this will put more controlled measures in place for them to cross at the lights and drive those roadways.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, however, wasn’t buying that argument.
“I don’t grasp the concept of changing the bylaws to accommodate violators,” he said.
The sole councillor to vote against first reading, Aiken argued the Mallard/Wright Street intersection is already a dangerous area and “adding more vehicles to that is not a solution.” He also noted that approving such a bylaw goes against council’s recent actions towards tackling climate change.
“This flies directly in the face of that, essentially allowing more greenhouse gas emitting vehicles to run around town,” he said.