ATV federation, trail group digging in on debate about crossings on Confederation Trail
The P.E.I. ATV Federation says crossings are necessary so riders can access trails designated for ATVs. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

‘We don’t want to be on the Confederation Trail, we want to work together,’ says federation president

 

As government looks to allow ATVs to cross the Confederation Trail, two different sides are gearing up to make sure their interests are heard.

Both the P.E.I. ATV Federation and Island Trails are asking people to contact politicians to weigh in on whether or not the changes should be made. 

The federation wants the government to make it legal for ATVs to cross the Confederation Trail. The group has been lobbying the government for the crossings.

It says it is trying to create a province-wide trail system that could be a valuable tourism product, and it needs to be able to cross Confederation Trail to do that.

“We need to be able to link our trail system, and the Confederation Trail is that link that we need to cross,” said Peter Mellish, the federation’s president. 

 
Federation president Peter Mellish points to a crossing he would like to have in Newton, P.E.I., near Kinkora. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Bryson Guptill, secretary of Island Trails, said the group worries it could be a slippery slope that could result in more ATVs on the trail, instead of just crossing it. 

Proposal just submitted

Mellish said the idea has just been submitted to government with proposed locations for about 16 crossings. 

“We just need to be able to cross it, plain and simple,” Mellish said. 

 
Bryson Guptill, with the Island Trails group, says he would like to see legislation strengthened to keep the trail non-motorized. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Mellish said the ATV group has its own 350-kilometre trail system on private land, so this is not about getting ATVs on the Confederation Trail. 

“We don’t want to be on it, we don’t want to be anymore of a challenge for the bikers and hikers on the Confederation Trail, we have our own trail system,” he said. 

Mellish said social media campaigns are underway right now to share information about what the group wants and how the trail crossings will help. 

Dangerous idea

“We think the future of the Confedration Trail is all about non-motorized use,” said Guptill. 

He said when it comes to crossings there may be room for some compromise, but the group wants to see the exact locations where crossings are being proposed. 

He said he would like to see legislation strengthened to ensure the trail remains for non-motorized use. 

 
A cyclist on the Confederation Trail near the UPEI campus in Charlottetown. (Laura Meader/CBC)

“The government had intended to strengthen the Trails Act back in 2014,” he said. “That legislation hasn’t been strengthened yet.” 

Island Trails has met with government and the federation intends to set up a meeting as well.

 
Island Trails wants better legislation to protect the trail as a non-motorized trail. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The federation acknowledged some ATVs do drive on the trail illegally now. 

“We don’t endorse that,” Mellish said. 

Mellish said controlled crossings would help, and he is also hoping for better licensing, registration and enforcement. 

‘Make the trails safer’

P.E.I. Transportation Minister Steven Myers said government will look to see what’s doable and reasonable when it comes to crossings for ATVs on the trail.

“This isn’t going to be 1,000 crossings, and this isn’t going to be ATVs ripping up and down the Confederation Trail,” Myers said. 

Myers said there will be lots of consultation before any decisions are made. 

 
Mellish says having crossings on the Confederation Trail would allow riders to connect to their own trail system. (Laura Meader/CBC)

“We are going to make the trails safer,” said Myers.

Myers said better enforcement is on the horizon too, including licensing for ATV drivers to better track vehicles. 

“This is going to be controlled crossings, with strict enforcement.” 

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