VICTORIA, N.L. — Some residents of Victoria have concerns about the safety of an all-purpose trail that may be coming to the community in the future.
In early to mid-2017, the beginning stages of a trail that would run through Victoria began, with some brush clearing taking place and ground work being carried out by an outside group.
By following this trail, one would find themselves coming up to Hillview Drive, as well as Route 70 — a major highway that runs through the community, and one that sees plenty of traffic on a daily basis from residents and people passing through the community.
The purpose of the trail is to provide Victoria with an all-purpose path, usable by those on off-road vehicles, as well as those who would prefer to travel by foot.
However, there are a number of residents in the area who saw some immediate problems with the trail. They have since come together as a concerned citizens group, with some members also taking on a role in the ad hoc Trail Committee – a group that was put into place after it was discovered there were no permits in place for work to begin on the trail. They now meet with one another to discuss the future of the trail.
Art Kelloway is one such resident. His property comes quite close to the edge of the trail, and he has been an outspoken member of the community for quite some time as he works with council and residents as the town pursues this endeavour.
“We asked the town to put a stop work order on it when we saw what was happening, and they did,” said Kelloway. “We discovered there were no permits in place for any of this, and it was just a group of people who got together to do it. We’ve had a couple of meetings with this ad hoc Committee with the intentions of finding an alternate route.
“We said (the current) route right now will never fly, because you’d have people coming out on to the main streets in their off-road vehicles. We wanted to go looking for an alternate route in order to avoid those issues.”
The issues Kelloway noted mainly revolved around safety. As people make use of the trail, they would soon approach Route 70 and, in order to continue along the trail, would have to make a brief trek down the paved highway, lasting approximately 0.2-kilometres.
Kelloway, alongside fellow concerned citizen David Byrne, see this as not only a major safety issue, but also a violation of provincial regulations, which state that off-road vehicles have no place on provincial highways.
“To us, it’s a matter of safety,” Kelloway said. “People walk in this area all the time, and children play.
“We don’t want to see anyone get hurt because of this trail or, heaven forbid, get killed.”
However, as the weeks have gone by, Kelloway feels that he is the only one the committee is relying on to find this new route. He told The Compass that, after meeting with council on several occasions, he was under the impression that the trail was not going to go ahead, however, he believes there are some steps being taken behind the scenes to see the completion of the trail.
Up in the air
Victoria Mayor Barry Dooley told The Compass that, as of Thursday evening, June 28, the future of the trail is still up in the air, as the town is still waiting to hear back on their Crown land applications, and other such applications that would give them permission to develop such a trail in the community.
Dooley also noted that council had given the ad hoc committee a timeframe to find an alternate route, but did not hear back within the given time.
“We already gave one opportunity and we heard nothing,” said Dooley. “Now, this is the second chance.
“We’re basically saying, ‘OK, well if you’ve got an alternate route, we want to hear the details, and we’ll go from there.’ Right now, we’re still waiting on that proposal.”
Dooley said the trail is still in the preliminary stages, and the chances of any trail being developed in the town rely solely on the Crown land applications. If those are denied, Dooley said the chances of a trail are ultimately dead in the water.
Dooley also noted he would be reaching out to Kelloway in order to set up a meeting to discuss the route, as both parties seemed to have been under the impression that they were waiting on one another.
Ultimately, as Kelloway and Byrne explained to The Compass, the residents who have expressed concerns are not opposed to a trail entirely. In fact, Byrne openly welcomed the idea, but wanted to ensure it was done right, with the proper safety precautions taken into account.
“I don’t want people to think we’re here trying to put a stop to the trail completely, that’s not the case,” he said. “We just want to make sure it’s put in a place that makes sense, and doesn’t put other people at risk.”