Witless Bay council to work with ATV users

·3 min read

The Peaceful Community Enjoyment committee of Witless Bay has been busy since the February committee of council.

Though, as pointed out by Town CAO Pat Curran, while there was discussion about the “peaceful enjoyment initiative” at that meeting, and councillor Colleen Hanrahan was asked to consider the matter further, in fact no formal motion to form the committee was made.

Nonetheless committee members have been meeting, and an adoption of a special meeting summary report was presented for adoption by council. Curran later explained to the Irish Loop Post that the meetings are informal sessions in which most members of council would have been present.

Councillor Hanrahan gave a rundown of the committee’s activities.

“The council has been busy on this particular file,” said Hanrahan. “As of February 16, we met and discussed what we could do around this initiative, and the concerns were that we should focus on the town of Witless Bay, and not the whole region. Councillor (Vince) Swain was quite concerned about undertaking any initiative and the potential liability of the town.”

The focus of the committee has been on engaging ATV users in the community, she added.

“I am a transplanted townie, I know nothing about ATVS, although I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, because they tend to roar up and down the community a lot,” said Hanrahan. “So, we’re trying to figure out how to work with the users of ATVs, not to try to frustrate them. Councillor (Fraser) Paul suggested we do what they do down the Shore, which is that they develop trails. And the potential for that exists here, because there are a lot of users, and I understand there are areas where people are using ATVs.”

Hanrahan said she would follow up with a representative of the Canadian Safety Council, who provided training on the responsible use of ATVs to see if they would be willing to participate in a public discussion. “And he was very interested in this initiative, and he encouraged the town to work with the ATV users, and was willing to participate in a meeting with he town,” said Hanrahan.

She said she also discussed the concerns with representatives from Safety NL.

There was also discussion about identifying those in town who might be looking at joining the committee, part of whose duty will be to make funding applications for trail development.

Deputy Mayor Maureen Murphy noted she had an email from former MHA Keith Hutchings from October of 2016, in which he suggested a committee be formed.

In a further email, Murphy said Hutchings recommended that representatives from Local Service Districts be included.

“So, there was discussion around this, and they did have meetings, whatever became of it. Our former mayor and Keith Hutchings confirm that. I just wanted to clarify that,” said Murphy.

Swain motioned that the town, when COVID-19 restrictions allow, host a meeting on forming an ATV committee, which was seconded by Paul and approved unanimously.

Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News