Off-highway vehicle club seeks access to portion of Bridgewater’s Centennial Trail

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN, PHOTO</p><p>While off-highway vehicle usage is banned on Bridgewater&#8217;s trail system, it doesn&#8217;t stop such units from accessing it. This all-terrain vehicle was spotted recently on the strip off Glen Allan Drive near the Drumlin Hills complex.</p>

A local all-terrain vehicle (ATV) club seeking permission to use a piece of Bridgewater's Centennial Trail is getting push-back from letter-writers to the town who believe granting such access promotes noise and pollution.

Jesse Robson, a Lunenburg resident planning a move to the Main Street of the South Shore, urged town council to protect the trail system from off-highway vehicles, including snowmobiles.

"ATV's create noise pollution and air pollution, which is particularly unpleasant to encounter when one is walking, running, cycling, or playing outdoors. ATV's could also pose significant danger to children, seniors and other residents who may be hard of hearing or have difficulty moving quickly - particularly since unlike non-motorized vehicles, an ATV would take up most of the width of the Centennial Trail, making it difficult for other users to avoid them," Robson wrote.

"As their name implies, ATV's are better suited to travelling rugged terrain, outside of town limits, where pedestrians are less likely to be present."

The Central Nova ATV Club recently asked the town for access to a portion of the eight-kilometre-long multi-use Centennial Trail - the former rail-bed within Bridgewater limits - where it connects between Cookville and Hebbville in the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL).

"We are not requesting access along LaHave Street, simply interested in the connectivity over the river. We are willing to partnership for funding of upgrades and maintenance costs for the section of trail in question and the bridge," Peter Lee Young wrote on behalf of the club. "We seek permission from you to allow us to prepare an estimate that will allow these upgrades and provide a plan of action.

Motorized off-road vehicles are currently not permitted on the trail but that doesn't stop them from traveling along the route. Walkers and cyclists meet them from time-to-time, including the section near Glen Allan Drive close to the Drumlin Hills apartment complex.

Young said accessing the strip between Hebbville and Cookville, which would include over the former rail bridge, "is the only connection between the east and west sides of the LaHave River.

"With this connectivity, this would connect us to the Bull Run Trail from the LaHave River Trail. This would allow a connection of the multi-use trail from Bridgewater to Liverpool."

The club is working with MODL and the LaHave River Trail Association to finish the multi-use trail between Bridgewater and Middleton. "This connection will create links for [off-highway vehicle] travel that will open up the entire region to the benefits of trail tourism," Young said.

MODL Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson also asked Bridgewater to consider the club's request, saying it would benefit the local economy.

Susan Ross, who plans to move to Bridgewater from Pictou County, said she may reconsider her decision if Bridgewater sanctions a change.

"If motorized off-road vehicles are permitted use of this trail it will drastically change the appeal of Centennial Trail," she said in a letter. "These machines are noisy and environmentally unfriendly; their use will impinge negatively on my anticipated enjoyment both of a quiet property and of the trail itself as I look forward to hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing."

Town council has yet to make a decision concerning the club's plea. Bridgewater's communications manager, Patrick Hirtle, said the club is working on a response to town council's request for more information and the answer will come back to council.

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