Eganville – Tranquility Bay Cottage Association property owners have come to an agreement with the local snowmobile and ATV club, as well as Bonnechere Valley council, to have the existing railway bed used as access for their Golden Lake properties.
Works Supervisor Jason Zohr reported he met with members of the Tranquility Bay Road Association, the local ATV club and representatives from the snowmobile club to find a working solution.
“It was a very good meeting,” he said. “I think it is something that will go ahead if council is in agreement.”
A report from Barry O’Reilly from the Tranquility Bay Cottage Association noted, “it was determined by those in attendance that the best option would be to have a separation between the road and ATV/Snowmobile trail for safety concerns.”
As a result, the cottage association approached council asking for use of the railway bed from Tranquility Bay Road to Zadow Road.
“This would allow for year-round access to our homes and cottages on Tranquility Bay Drive and this would allow safe travel for emergency response vehicles when needed,” he said. “Our first choice would be to own this one km stretch of road and maintain it year-round at our expense. If that option was not available, we would like to enter into a lease agreement or a land use agreement with the township.”
The property owners would maintain the road year-round with grading and snow removal, provide liability insurance and post proper signage stating this is not a through roadway, he stated.
“We would also create a new trail beside the existing railway bed on the south side to accommodate ATV and snowmobiles from Tranquility Bay Road, east to Zadow Road,” he said. “We would create this trail at our expense. This would provide a separate roadway and a separate ATV/snowmobile trail as previously mentioned for greater safety.”
Mayor Jennifer Murphy said if this is a doable solution and solves a lot of problems.
“They are looking at buying the railbed,” Councillor Merv Buckwald noted. “We don’t want to sell that.”
Councillor Jack Roesner said he wanted more information on how this would work.
“The snowmobile club is getting approval form the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Trails,” he noted.
CAO Annette Gilchrist said the biggest issue is the trail groomer having access. The proposal is to have a legal access agreement. She said it will be stipulated this is to “use at your own risk” since the railway bed is not maintained by the municipality.
“What is the goal?” asked Coun. Roesner. “To designate this as a private road?”
Mrs. Gilchrist said it was an access agreement.
“You can’t gate it,” she added. “They are responsible for maintaining and insuring it.”
“I just foresee snowmobiles still taking that road,” Coun. Roesner said.
Mrs. Gilchrist said signage will be very important. As well, as the owner of the railway bed the municipality also has some liability, she cautioned
While council agreed to move forward with the proposal and have more concrete terminology, the changes will not take place until next year. It is too close to winter to make the changes and build a new trail, the CAO said.
“This snowmobile season will be as is,” the CAO said.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader