Stakeholders weigh in on allowing access to snowmobile trails via KC Irving Centre

Bathurst Council heard from a number of stakeholders on Monday night, about a proposed plan that would grant snowmobilers access to local trails via the KC Irving Centre.

Sentier Green Trails Jim Fournier voiced concerns for the safety and tranquility of non-motorized trail users as well as for the system's future development.

He's also concerned that ATV's and snowmobiles would damage the walking and biking trails in the area.

Fournier is asking council to re-examine the proposal he says will negatively impact the work of volunteers on green trails over the past ten years.

He says there has been a lack of stakeholder engagement to find a solution to meet the needs of all groups and support the progress made to encourage small business development.

Fournier claims green trails have the highest return on investment than any other trail type at 176 per cent.

But councillor Penny Anderson fired back that the snowmobile industry's economic impact on the region can't be ignored over the poor behaviour of a select few.

Anderson says that if the trails are properly marked, safety concerns would be minimized.

Councillor Kim Chamberlain says machines crossing the non-motorized system could pose a safety risk to trail users but adds that she's certain a solution is possible.

She says there is a need to provide snowmobilers access to trails, noting they contribution millions to the local economy.

Chamberlain suggested granting access for a one year trial.

Meanwhile, Nepisiguit Snowmobile Club's Dave Brewster says the snowmobile industry plays a significant role in the local economy, noting snowmobilers booked 3,000 rooms at local hotels last season alone.

He says granting access to the KC Irving Centre would also pave the way for a major snowmobiling event in 2019.

Council is expected to vote on the matter in April.