Reader weighs in on dual-use rail trail

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County to spend $1.7 million taxpayer dollars on a commercial ATV-snowmobile trail

If some Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills Councillors have their way, $1.7 million of our tax dollars will be spent on a noisy motorized high speed trail for off-road vehicle clubs, along the old rail bed between Almonte and Carleton Place.  The current plan is to install a passive trail alongside a motorized trail, which we say is a ruse and a waste of money.  Nobody in their right mind will want to walk, run, bike, ski, or push a stroller alongside a lane of noisy snowmobiles and ATVs.  It’s baffling how any Councillor can conclude that a mere one metre gap is a safe buffer between motorized ATVs / snowmobiles and passive trail users, including small children.  The proposed dual-track was recently endorsed by Carleton Place, whereas Mississippi Mills has yet to provide a recommendation to County.

Property owners along the proposed trail are rightfully concerned about the decline in property values and the incessant noise from hundreds of off-road vehicles on the proposed trail.  We didn’t buy a home in the country to listen to the continuous roar of off-road vehicles.  A majority of Almonte business owners are also opposed to a motorized trail system through town, with a recent poll showing 35 of 38 opposed.  The municipalities will also be placing themselves in a precarious position defending death and injury lawsuits and paying increased policing and insurance costs as the operator of a municipal owned motorized trail system.

Ourselves, other residents, and Friends of the Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail did propose a happy median, which would allow rural snowmobile use during the winter months and passive non-motorized use during the summer months.  This makes sense, given noise levels are less offensive in winter months when windows are closed and demand for passive trail use is highest in the summer.  A motion to this effect was tabled at Mississippi Mills Town Council, by Jill McCubbin and John Edwards and was supported by Mayor Shaun McLaughlin, Amanda Pulker-Mok, Jane Torrance, and Christa Lowry, but the motion was narrowly defeated.  The proposed dual track trail is now before Lanark County Council and unless common sense prevails, the proposal will be approved and ATVs will soon be ripping up our taxpayer funded trails from Almonte through Carleton Place, while businesses report brisk sales of ear plugs.

Thank you,

Matthew Andrews