Tug of war heats up over PPJ

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Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The ATV Committee, chaired by Thorne Mayor and Pro-warden Terry Murdock, held another meeting, August 4, at The Junction Restaurant in Campbell’s Bay. The Committee’s final report is expected to be tabled at the Council of Mayors meeting this fall.

Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – The ATV Committee, chaired by Thorne Mayor and Pro-warden Terry Murdock, held another meeting, August 4, at The Junction Restaurant in Campbell’s Bay. The Committee’s final report is expected to be tabled at the Council of Mayors meeting this fall.
Although the meeting was closed to the media and public, Remo Pasteris, one of the two Green PPJ Verte members, who holds a seat on the Committee, was willing to comment on the meeting and said he is very upset with
the Committee’s lack of progress and openness to other ideas. “It wasn’t a meeting, it was a debate session. We are now convinced the only issue the Committee is willing to discuss is turning the PPJ into a multi-use trail. They are unwilling to explore other options and are unable to answer even basic questions about safety concerns,” he added.
Murdock was unable to be reached for a comment regarding the meeting, but had commented on the issue in an interview a week prior to the meeting. “We are still working on the report. Everything is up in the air right now. We are getting information from neighbouring municipalities and provinces to see how they are operating their ATV trails and how we can increase our tourism. Most people here feel that the PPJ is underutilized. Does anybody realize just how poor the Pontiac is? That’s what I’m looking into and it be a fair report,” he said. Members of the Snowmobile Association attended the August 4 meeting, even though, according to Pasteris, Green PPJ Verte was told they weren’t allowed to bring anyone other than the two members approved by the MRC.
Campbell’s Bay to Fort Coulonge in 20 minutes!
The Pontiac Quad Club welcomes the idea of a multi-use trail. “Going from Campbell’s Bay to Fort Coulonge takes close to three hours by quad following the current trails. Some people who finish work around 5 pm would like to go Fort Coulonge by quad for supper, but currently it takes too long. If they could use the
PPJ, it would take 20 minutes,” said Patrick Amyotte, Pontiac Quad Club president.
“We were approached by the ATV Committee to see if the Club could
maintain the PPJ all-year long and we said yes. Another 92 km of trails for our club would be great,” said Amyotte. “The PPJ would become a shared path for all to use. This is not a new idea. In Ontario, there are some trails shared between quads and cyclists and everything works fine there.”
The Pontiac Quad Club maintains over 400 km of trails and according to Amyotte, some riders see cyclists and hikers on their trails and “so far it has not caused a problem.”Quads and bikes don’t mix Louis Carpentier, Route Verte’s development coordinator, said quads and bicycles don’t mix. “We have big concerns regarding this proposition to allow quads to use the Cyclopark PPJ,” he told the Journal. “Route verte is the envy of many provinces and states because it answers certain safety and accessibility criteria for cyclists. Sharing the path between bicycles and quads, for safety reasons is impossible. We could not imagine the risk of serious injuries during a collision between a quad and a cyclist.” Therefore, if the COM allows quads to use the PPJ, it would in all likelihood be removed from the Route verte.
Québec’s Route verte is based on an idea that originated with Vélo Québec. It has been under development since 1995, with the collaboration of the MTQ and numerous regional partners. The PPJ joined the provincial
network in 2009. There were programs to help maintain the paths, but they were cut a few years ago. Carpentier is hoping the government will launch another program. “We are expecting the government to make an announcement regarding this in the coming weeks,” he added.
As indicated by Amyotte, there’s not much money left to maintain the trail. “For those who want to keep the PPJ as is, will they pay from their pocket to maintain it? This is the problem; the coffers are empty.” Murdock added that most people in the Pontiac drive ATVs and not bicycles “and they are paying the taxes.”
The ATV Committee will meet again August 25, this time with the Ministry of Transport and Sûreté du Quebec. “We are hoping these parties will be
more impartial and that we will be able to get some answers,” concluded Pasteris.
The final decision will be made by the MRC Pontiac’s Council of Mayors. Currently, MRC Warden and Mayor of Fort-Coulogne Raymond Durocher appears uneasy with allowing quads to use the PPJ alongside bicycles and hikers. “There are already paths for ATVs; if there are connections to make between municipalities, they shouldn’t be made via the PPJ,” he said.