Bayham councillors on Thursday, Dec. 16, turned down a new snowmobile route in Vienna proposed by the Poplar Ridge Riders Club, but have committed to finding an alternative.
Martin Baelde wrote to Bayham on behalf of the club, outlining a plan for a new route for the group’s main trail between St. Thomas and Langton.
The plan was to go down Centre Street, Fulton Street and Union Street in Vienna, and to use a right of way for a possible future extension of Queen Street to reach Edison Drive.
Four residents along the route wrote to councillors, opposing the proposal, mainly due to noise and safety concerns.
Councillor Valerie Donnell said, “The area to me where they are trying to exit, is not a highway, it’s a right of way, and there are homes right there.”
Mayor Ed Ketchabaw pointed out after plowing, the route would have snowmobilers riding on bare asphalt on the street.
Cr. Donnell asked about riders using the edges of the road, but Mayor Ketchabaw said residents wouldn’t want snowmobiles going across their lawns and flower beds.
Cr. Dan Froese said he couldn’t support anything that would result in snowmobilers going through a village and suggested working with the club to find another route.
Mayor Ketchabaw asked why a new route was needed.
Public Works Manager Steve Adams said the former route had to be abandoned, because landowners were tired of noise from the machines and crop damage caused by off-trail riding.
He also pointed out that an Elgin County bridge on the proposed new route had a grated deck, and skis might get caught by that.
Deputy Mayor Rainey Weisler was concerned that all-terrain vehicles might also use the trail.
“Once there is a trail, it seems to get used. Once the trail gets sloppy, they go to the side and make their own trail,” she said, though she supported working with the club to find another route.
Rob Perry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express