Nackawic, off-road-vehicle groups talk access to town streets

·3 min read

Nackawic council hosted a public meeting Tuesday, Nov. 2, taking the next step towards introducing a proposed bylaw covering limited off-road-vehicle access to a few town streets and roadways.

Mayor Ian Kitchen, who could not attend Tuesday’s meeting due to other commitments, said the meeting sought public and business views on giving ATV and quad drivers access to Otis Drive.

Bob Stokes, a director of QuadNB, joined area ATV club representatives and others at the Nov. 2 meeting in Nackawic, calling it a “good meeting.”

He said the town hosted the public meeting to review and present the information the town was recommending,” Stokes said.

Kitchen explained that the town reached an agreement with the local ATV club four or five years ago to provide riders limited access to Routes 105 and 605 to reach gas stations and restaurants.

The mayor said the groups later reached out to the town requesting access to Otis Drive, giving them a route to the Hawkshaw bridge road, which would connect them to off-road trails on the south side of the river.

Kitchen said he believes securing approval from the town to use Otis Drive, which rejoins Route 105, just north of the Hawkshaw bridge, is the first step towards off-road clubs getting provincial government approval to use the bridge.

While the groups already have limited access to Route 105 to reach the Nackawic gas station located there, Stokes said using Otis Drive instead of travelling Route 105 to the Hawkshaw bridge provides a better option for both off-road travellers and Nackawic.

“Otis Drive is the safest route to avoid Nackawic Mill trucks, and this route supports their waterfront development and other businesses in their downtown area,” Stokes said.

*If the town approves the use of Otis Drive and has a bylaw in place, Stokes doesn’t expect difficulty in securing provincial approval.

He said QuadNB would do the paperwork needed to gain the necessary approval from DTI Justice and Public Safety for continued access on Route 105, plus the bridge.

“We do not feel this will be an issue as we have already done some preliminary checks,” Stokes said. “This will all come as a package with their proposed bylaw wording, and once approved by QuadNB, it is then submitted to the government departments.”

The town’s proposed bylaw lays out rules and restrictions surrounding the off-road-vehicles use of town streets, including the requirement the machines must be registered and insured.

During the discussion of the proposed bylaw during Nackawic’s Nov. 2 council session, some noted the ongoing problem over the past few years of bike and ATV riders illegally using town streets and becoming a nuisance for town residents.

“Yes, the ‘hooligan’ issue is always a concern,” said Stokes, but added this type of problem dates back generations.

Stokes said riders illegally travelling town streets are often youth who are not part of any off-road club nor pay for trail passes.

“When one looks at the demographics of the owners and the legal members of Quad NB, their age is mostly in the 55-plus range,” he said.

Stokes said Nackawic joins 32 other New Brunswick communities providing access to town streets to promote tourism and an economic benefit to their respective community.

He said Premier Blaine Higgs committed “to develop a tourism strategy that will connect, complete and improve the existing managed trail system, to provide safe and enjoyable trails that will attract enthusiasts from far and wide for this fast-growing safe family outdoor sport.”

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

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