PPJ: no room for half-baked solutions

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Att: Mayor Murdock and the ATV Committee

Around 1998, when the MRC decided to convert the old railway bed into a
bicycle trail, I was the French editor for the Pontiac Journal and therefore am well aware of the details of this file. As far as I can remember, there was no feasibility study conducted to demonstrate it would be a sound economic decision. It

Att: Mayor Murdock and the ATV Committee

Around 1998, when the MRC decided to convert the old railway bed into a
bicycle trail, I was the French editor for the Pontiac Journal and therefore am well aware of the details of this file. As far as I can remember, there was no feasibility study conducted to demonstrate it would be a sound economic decision. It
was based on incomplete information, impressions and beliefs that it would be a sound investment.
Unfortunately, more than $1,5 million of our money was sunk in this project with little economic benefit for our region. With hindsight, we could say it was a
bad decision.
Now, as far as I can see, the ATV Committee is set on changing the usage of this trail by allowing ATVs to use it. There is no realistic study to show the economic benefits of such a change. Mr. Amyotte, from the Quad Club, was quoted saying
it would be nice to go from Campbell’s Bay to Fort-Coulonge on the trail in
20 minutes for supper. Where are the economic benefits in that? Could they
not use their cars instead?
Furthermore, if quads were allowed on the trail, it is obvious that it would rapidly become a racetrack and a playground for some careless quad drivers. It would be wrecked and become dangerous for other users (cyclists, walkers).
Will the usage of the Cycloparc by ATVs attract riders from outside the Pontiac? We all know the answer is “No”. Does the Committee really want to repeat the mistake of 1998?
What quad drivers want and need is a well organized, well maintained, well mapped, and well advertised network of trails in the bush; then they will come and spend their money in the Pontiac. Are you looking for progress and a better economy? Then leave the PPJ alone and convince the MRC to invest in a realistic development plan for the ATV trails on our territory.
There are many visitors (cyclists) that come to the Pontiac because they want to use the bicycle trail (during the summer, the majority of the visitors at my
campground come to the Pontiac to use the Cycloparc and not the ATV trails because these trails are not easy to find or access). Of course, cyclists are not highly visible because they produce no noise and no dust, but if you were to take a count of their number, you would be surprised.
In other words, a realistic way of improving tourism in the Pontiac is not a half-baked solution, like allowing the ATVs on the trail, but the development of a good network of ATV trails in the Pontiac.

Lionel Tessier
MANSFIELD