ATVs get May start on Rail Trail 0
For the second year in a row, ATVs will get an early start on the Haliburton County Rail Trail.
At their Sept. 26 meeting, county councillors voted to let ATVs on the trail beginning May 1 of 2013.
Councillors received correspondence from Haliburton ATV Association president Steven Skidmore, requesting the May start date.
“Over the last 18 months' time frame the Haliburton All-Terrain Vehicle Association has been denied from getting complete and consistent answers to the opening of the Haliburton County Rail Trail on the May 1 opening,” the letter read. “As you are aware this date would coincide with the opening of the Victoria Rail Trail which currently exists from Kinmount to Lindsay. This inconsistency in opening dates is not just causing confusion for ATV enthusiasts. It is hurting and negatively impacting the economics of monetary inflow to the Village of Haliburton itself.”
“I didn't appreciate the lecture,” said Algonquin Highlands Reeve Carol Moffatt the of the letter. “And I don't think a letter like this is the basis for a constructive relationship going forward.”
Moffatt also suggested that the various associations that use the trail each appoint one person to liaise with council, since councillors often deal with different personalities.
Minden Hills Reeve Barb agreed that the tone of the letter was “most unfortunate,” but, putting that aside, said, “let's look at their merits of their request.”
Reid has been a consistent advocate of making the start date for ATVs on the corridor May 1 to achieve harmonization with the City of Kawartha Lakes, contending that it's of economic benefit to the county.
“May 1 would be reasonable,” said Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge. “I'm not an ATV fan and am speaking to this from a totalled unbiased perspective.”
Councillors agreed on the May 1 start, with the stipulation that any damage done to the trail during the month, as determined by the roads department, be paid for by the association.
Councillors also took in a presentation by Pamela Marsales of Friends of the Rail Trail, who suggested the county adopt a five-year plan to turn the Rail Trail into a greenway.
The plan would involve ATVers buy permits from the county for three years, before having ATV use phased out, while leaving the trail for the sole purpose of snowmobiling in the winter.
Marsales said greenways are popular all over the world and could help the county usher in a new type of tourism that would bring economic value.
She hopes to join the greenway to the Trans Canada Trail for Canada Day of 2017.
Councillors accepted her presentation for information.
They also adopted a series of minimum standards for the Rail Trail, ones that came out of the public input process conducted by consultant Kate Hall.
They include patrolling, repairs to the rail bed, bridge maintenance, debris pickup, the clearing of downed trees and regulatory and information signage.