Ethan Shea
All terrain vehicles (ATV’s) have always been a back and forth debate on whether or not to let them drive on PEI trails.
Some have argued that ATV’s should be kept away from the Confederation Trail because it is a tourism attraction. The concern is four-wheelers and snowmobiles are tearing up the Confederation Trail, ruining its tourism aspect.
Here is a possible other solution. There should be a separate trail from the Confederation Trail reserved only for off-highway vehicles.
Currently on PEI, there are five ATV clubs which are run by volunteers. These volunteers donate hundreds of hours to maintain the clubhouses and trail systems. The clubs are also supported through community with fund-raisers. The current ATV trail system is made through an agreement with private landowners which allows the PEI ATV Federation permission to build trails on their properties. This work is ongoing, and the Federation’s ultimate goal is to have an Island wide trail system that connects tip to tip.
Another point in support of a separate ATV trail system is that if ATV owners had an Island wide network of trails they could use legally, damage to private property, the Confederation Trail and farmers fields would drop dramatically.
One farmer told me that in one year the total damage done to his family farm’s fields due to ATVs was $18,000. This is an unnecessary cost that our Island farmers do not need.
However, if the PEI government is telling Island ATV owners that they must register their ATV, pay taxes and insurance on their vehicles, is it fair to not give ATV owners a legal place to ride them? Not to mention, many provinces, such as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have numerous trail systems designated for off-highway vehicles only.
Like anything else, there are a few bad apples who ruin it for everyone else. Not every ATV owner is out damaging property and breaking the law. Most people just want a safe place to enjoy their sport, the outdoors and nature, while pedestrians, and those who bike, want to enjoy the Confederation Trail without fear of meeting an ATV.
To have two separate trail systems would be an easy solution and keep peace between both sides.
Ethan Shea is a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at Westisle Composite High School. He is an avid ATV rider. #RisingYouth is a program led by TakingITGlobal to help youth build Canada and develop life skills by giving back to their communities
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