Just one step remains before off-road-vehicle riders can legally travel along Otis Street in Nackawic.
At the Monday, Nov. 15, regular meeting, Nackawic council passed the first and second reading of the proposed "T-3 Bylaw Designating Portions of Roads Accessible to All-Terrain Vehicles."
Council voted unanimously to support the new bylaw. Deputy Mayor Greg MacFarlane and Coun. Brian Toole were absent from Monday's meeting.
The bylaw would provide access for ATV and Quad riders to the entire length of Otis Drive. It would also maintain access to portions of Routes 105 and 605 through previous agreements with local ATV clubs.
After the meeting, Coun. Bob Simpson said council's support for the bylaw follows a successful public meeting where representatives of local and provincial off-road clubs, including Quad NB director Bob Stokes, delivered informative presentations.
Simpson believes off-road tours are a growing tourism opportunity for New Brunswick, and Nackawic can benefit by working with them and welcoming riders to the community. The councillor specifically noted Stokes' outline of efforts to connect the province's trail systems to those in Maine.
Stokes welcomed the news of the bylaw passing first and second reading. He agreed with Simpson that the public-information session went well.
Stokes also confirmed Quad NB's efforts to connect New Brunswick and Maine trails.
"I am chairing a committee with some fellow Quad NB board members on an N.B.-Maine ATV Agreement," he said.
Stokes said a proposal now sits in the Maine Legislature in Augusta for review.
"We are hoping to have a response soon," he said.
Stokes said Quad NB already has agreements with similar groups in the other Atlantic Provinces and Quebec for the shared use and access to trails.
"With the rapid growth in this sport and tourism, I felt we should explore a possible working relationship with Maine," said Stokes. "We will see what happens."
He said trails in both New Brunswick and Maine run close enough to the border to make for an easy potential connection.
"The Maine ATV trail is very close to the Houlton airport and just a short connect to the border where it would link with the trail proposed by the River Valley ATV Club," said Stokes.
The current agreement between Nackawic and ATV groups allows off-road riders to exit the trail system and travel Routes 605 and 105. It permits ATVs and Quad riders to travel Route 105 as far as the gas station in town.
If it passes third reading at a future council meeting, the bylaw will maintain the current agreement and add access to Otis Drive, which runs through Nackawic's business district and the town's growing waterfront tourism project.
Otis Drive connects to the portion of Route 105 where off-road vehicles have access. Otis then reconnects with Route 105 near the Hawkshaw Bridge, beyond the point where off-roaders have access.
Stokes previously acknowledged off-road clubs' are pursuing provincial government approval to access the portion of Route 105 and the bridge to reach trails on the south side of the bridge.
He said that is the next step in completing a province-wide system of connected trails.
Stokes explained Otis Drive provides a safer route through Nackawic than using the entire length of Route 105, which is used heavily by commercial trucks, including log trucks travelling to the AV Nackawic pulp mill.
With Nackawic on the cusp of providing a route through the town for off-road travellers to reach local business and connect with other parts of the trail system, Stokes said the next step is to secure similar bylaws or agreements in other communities.
One such community is Woodstock, where council is currently debating ATV and Quad access to town streets and the Trans Canada walking trail.
While Woodstock council is close to approving a pilot project in the spring to provide off-road traffic on designated streets, its plans for the Trans Canada Trail remain undetermined.
Stokes said Woodstock currently poses a roadblock to the off-road sporting community's efforts for a completely interconnected trail system throughout the province.
Stokes said the River Valley ATV Club's original proposal to Woodstock called for access to the Trans Canada Trail from Wright's OK Tire on the town's southside to Station Street at the north end.
From there, he said, off-road drivers could seek the right to travel along Station Street to Upper Main Street to Deakin Drive to Connell Street, through the business district to the western town limits and another trail system.
Woodstock's proposed pilot project would allow off-road traffic on Main Street, Connell Street and Deakin Drive, with limited access to other streets. It has not yet decided on the trail system but is studying the possibility of widening the trail to provide parallel motorized and pedestrian traffic routes.
Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun