Some support was expressed for a new bylaw allowing ATVs to access roads in Port Hawkesbury.
At last night’s regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council, it was decided that
town staff will research other municipal bylaws, the Motor Vehicle Act, as well as a new provincial Road Trails Act.
Staff will then report their findings to an advisory committee of council which will meet before the committee of the whole session on Sept. 19.
Town Councillor Jason Aucoin said he was approached by “quite a few residents” and the Richmond County ATV Riders Association to create a bylaw allowing ATVs on all town streets that are “insured, registered and operated by a fully licenced operator,” meaning that a Nova Scotia driver’s licence will be required.
Under this proposed bylaw, Aucoin said ATVs would not have access to roads in the town between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. to comply with the town’s noise bylaw.
Aucoin said this will have a positive economic impact on Port Hawkesbury, noting that he’s seen ATV riders eating at restaurants, gassing up, and staying at hotels in other communities.
The town councillor said there are plans to organize another ATV rally in the town and he pointed out that the Town of Yarmouth is moving to second reading on similar a bylaw to permit ATV access.
He said Victoria Warden Bruce Morrison is also interested in a similar bylaw for the Municipality of the County of Victoria.
Aucoin asked that council consider having first reading of the bylaw at the next public meeting on Oct. 3, reasoning that “a lot of the work was already done from Yarmouth” and can be discussed at the committee of the whole session.
Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said there are rules around providing sufficient time to advertise proposed bylaws before the first reading and since Port Hawkesbury is different from Yarmouth, they will need “ample time” to make sure they check off all the boxes.
Port Hawkesbury CAO Terry Doyle agreed, noting that the proposed bylaw would have to be reviewed by the bylaw advisory committee which would then decide to make a recommendation to council.
Because the proposed bylaw entails connecting two sections of trail through one section of town streets, Doyle said it is “very different” from the Yarmouth bylaw which will permit ATV access to a specific road in that town.
The CAO said staff will need time to do research.
Noting that he thinks the proposed bylaw is a “great idea” and a “money-maker for the town,” Deputy Mayor Hughie MacDougall wants council to move quickly.
Town Councillor Mark MacIver also expressed support for a bylaw and suggested that the idea be brought up at the next meeting of the town’s Police Advisory Committee on Sept. 12 to see if there is more information from other parts of the province. He said he would like to hear from the public before anything is decided.
Town Councillor Blaine MacQuarrie recommended town council be “thoughtful” about such a bylaw, noting he receives “frequent complaints” about four-wheel vehicles travelling on MacQuarrie Drive Extension.
During a public meeting discussing the bylaw in Yarmouth, MacQuarrie said some people expressed concerns about it, and he suggested public consultation will be important.
Aucoin responded that other communities in the province are open to ATV traffic, and he said ATVs would have permission to cross Reeves Street, but not drive on the provincial highway.
MacIver agreed there are many places in Nova Scotia where ATVs are allowed to cross highways.