Open Letter to the mayors of MRC Pontiac – Another study to allow ATVs on the PPJ—-Really? Again?

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After a difficult couple of weeks for Pontiac residents, given the threats and loss of homes to flooding, we can say what a great community we live in, when so many helped their neighbours in need.

After a difficult couple of weeks for Pontiac residents, given the threats and loss of homes to flooding, we can say what a great community we live in, when so many helped their neighbours in need.
Not on the same scale, but another threat has resurfaced this spring:  the possible loss of the Cycloparc PPJ to motorized vehicles. Pontiac’s Green-PPJ-Verte citizens’ committee is dismayed that allowing ATVs on the Cycloparc PPJ is again wasting the time and energy of the Mayor’s council and threatening this amazing resource.
We also believe that the proposed study will not be impartial. How could it be impartial when 3 of the 5 mayors who volunteered have already made up their minds – they’ve publically said they want to see ATVs on the PPJ.  If they admit to a bias, how can their decision not be biased?   
In 2016 and 2017, the first MRC sponsored committee had members who were already publicly in favour of “cowboys on the trail”. The council of mayors saw
that attempt to combine motorized and non-motorized use of the trail. To date,
apart from one failed attempt to get MOT permission to use highway shoulders, ATVers have made no real effort to find an alternate route between Campbell’s Bay and Waltham. Their tactic now is to promote “multi-use”.
The Cycloparc PPJ is part of Quebec’s Route Verte system, and receives substantial funding for it. It is our only trail attracting cyclists and hikers because of its safety and peace. Allowing motorized vehicles on the PPJ will NOT make it multi-use — it will quickly become single-use, with tourists and local citizens frightened off. The PPJ will become just one more trail in their already large ATV trail network.
There are three essential facts to consider. 
First: if ATVs are allowed on the PPJ, the MRC will lose provincial funding for its maintenance (up to $125,000 per year).  The trail bed would quickly be ruined
for any use other than ATVs, likely damaging local snowmobile clubs’ grooming equipment (according to the president of the Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers’ Association).Where will necessary money come from for maintenance?
Second:  there already exist over 450 kms of trails and many side roads available for ATVers!  Cyclists and hikers only have 92 km — the PPJ. And it is not a mandate
for the MRC to shorten ATV travel-time between communities. 
Third, and most important:  allowing motorized vehicles on the PPJ would be an accident waiting to happen.  Who will be responsible for harm and damages? “Trust me; I’ll go slowly when I see a cyclist”
doesn’t cut it! The difference between an ATV driver’s idea of safe travel and a cyclist’s or hikers’ is miles apart.  Speed is part of quading. Just imagine coming around a corner, facing a machine coming at you, at even 30 km an hour….most cyclists and hikers, especially children, wouldn’t stand a chance.  
Just as more MRCs and cities create cycling and hiking corridors – for their health and economic benefits — it is unbelievable that MRC Pontiac might take a step backwards. To give up a tourist attraction, proven elsewhere, for the convenience of a few citizens already living here will not add to our economic growth. We must offer touristic diversity to attract tourists, investment, and new residents. 
The Green-PPJ-Verte committee asks our mayors to reject this repeated attempt
take over the Cycloparc PPJ. There are other avenues to increase local ATV trails, without destroying what we already have.   Just say NO!

The Committee Members
Green-PPJ-Verte