An alternative solution to the ATV / PPJ study

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Added: Wed, 11/16/2016 - 6:55pm
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Allyson Beuregard

During last month’s Council of Mayors meeting (October 18), the mayors discussed funding a study to look at the possibility of connecting some of the PPJ’s “corridor” or “overwidth” with municipal roads and other trails to form a network of trails to link certain communities – to an estimated tune of $15,000 to $20,000 to come from the MRC Pontiac’s budget; essentially the taxpayers’ pockets.
The Green PPJ Verte citizens’ committee has stated their opposition to the study in an open letter on page 5 of this issue.
Re-starting at ground zero with a clean slate and a clearly defined
mandate, objectives, vision, and direction is wise, but it needs to be done properly right from the start. Everyone needs to be included – pedestrians, cyclists, ATV and snowmobile clubs, business owners, etc.  –  and all views, opinions and concerns need to be seriously heard and considered. It also requires consultation with the Ministry of Transport to see what is and what is not possible in terms of using municipal roads, as well as the Sûreté du Quebec to see what they are able to do in terms of patrolling and enforcement.   
Cooperation is key but compromise is also important.
Using small sections of the PPJ’s corridor, where they currently exist and with proper safeguards, barriers and patrolling, etc. might not be terrible; some municipalities already have short stretches where the ATV trail runs
alongside the cycling trail. However, any notion of using the PPJ itself or the entire trail’s corridor must be abandoned.
The MRC’s warden, Raymond Durocher, has already clearly stated that using the path itself is completely off the table. Using the entire trail is also impossible and unrealistic;
corridors do not exist in many areas due to wetlands, embankments, bridges etc., and creating usable corridors where they don’t currently exist would be very expensive - well beyond the Pontiac’s means, as is the proposed study.
Instead of forking out a hefty sum for a study on something that risks
progressing no further, why not conduct it “in-house”, much like the recent study on universal suffrage? In collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, each municipality - equipped with a team of volunteers which could include councillors, representatives from ATV and snowmobile clubs, business owners, cyclists, ATVers, etc - would be responsible for documenting where usable corridors exist, which municipal roads are currently being used for ATV use and which additional ones could be, where current ATV and snowmobile trails exist, where the PPJ trail is in dire need of improvements, and whatever else is needed within their respective territories.
Is this type of cooperation possible?  It could heal some of the wounds that have been created between ATVers and current users of the PPJ.  And, it could be a creative solution to a difficult situation.  If not, which way do we go?