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ATV club in P.E.I. fined after violating terms of permit to build trail

Dorothy Gamble, a summer resident of Lot 16, is saddened by the damage caused to the lands surrounding the Nebraska Creek by the Evangeline ATV Club.
Dorothy Gamble, a summer resident of Lot 16, is saddened by the damage caused to the lands surrounding the Nebraska Creek by the Evangeline ATV Club. - Millicent McKay
CENTRAL LOT 16, P.E.I. —
Floodwaters ran red last week after heavy rain cost a large amount of soil runoff from an ATV trail system established in Lot 16. Contributed photo/Angele Gamble
Floodwaters ran red last week after heavy rain cost a large amount of soil runoff from an ATV trail system established in Lot 16. Contributed photo/Angele Gamble

The river ran red. 

That's what residents in the Grand River and Lot 16 areas say following the construction of an ATV trail that crosses several local properties. 

Angele Gamble describes the trail system as obscene. 

"It's the most excessive trail. It's outrageous and a complete disregard for the environment and the laws." 

Gamble grew up in Lot 16. Her family owns land on the Nebraska Road and she summers in the area. 

"Through the summer we started hearing concerns from our neighbours about heavy machinery. That's when we decided to take a walk."

She said it wasn't long before she discovered mounds of red soil, water runoff and a wide dirt and clay trail. 

Trees have been pushed back to in order to establish a large trail system in Lot 16.
Trees have been pushed back to in order to establish a large trail system in Lot 16.


The trail, established by the Evangeline ATV Club, runs through an old-growth forest and about five different properties. 

Heading down the Allen Road, from the Western Road, the entrance to the trail system is on the right.

From there it crosses through one property, over a waterway with a wooden bridge, through a second property and continues through several other lots and over bridges until it reaches the back of the "Nebraska Crick" and eventually makes its way to the MacLean Road in Lot 16, said Doug Campbell, a Lot 16 resident. 

But Campbell and Gamble aren't the only ones concerned about the situation. 

A petition is circulating in the community, asking people to sign if they oppose the trail system and ATV users being there. 

Several community members, including Gamble, have also contacted the provincial government and others about the trail. 

Since contacting authorities, several fines have been laid against the Evangeline ATV Club. 

According to a spokesperson from the departments of Justice and Public Safety, Environment, Water and Climate Change, and Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, the club received a permit to install three free-span bridges on three properties in the Southwest Lot 16 (Nebraska) Creek.

All three landowners signed the application. 

After hearing concerns from locals, officials from those departments then went and assessed the site.

They determined the club violated the terms of the permit it received to build the trail system and was fined for the violations. 

In addition, a summary offence ticket was issued to the president of the club. 

Under provincial regulations, the ATV federation doesn't have access to any public roads on the Island.

For that to occur, there would need to be a regulation change. Also, the government received no request from the federation to use the Nebraska road as part of the system.

That, however, could soon change.

The Department of Transportation is working on regulatory amendments that, if passed, would allow the minister (Steven Myers) the ability to grant limited access to a public road with strict conditions.

The pilot project would be opening unpaved roads up and limited to individuals the ministry deems appropriate and in safe locations. 

A wide trail system has been established on land near the Nebraska Creek. But the water run-off, environmental cost and other factors have several residents in the area upset.
A wide trail system has been established on land near the Nebraska Creek. But the water run-off, environmental cost and other factors have several residents in the area upset.

For now, remediation work to repair the damage is being directed by the Department of Environment and must be completed by Sept. 15. 

Peter Mellish, president of the P.E.I. ATV Federation, said mistakes were made in this case and it will be a lesson for the future. 

"There was a judgment error made. We're working with authorities to reverse the damage done. We're going to learn from this."

Mellish stressed this incident was not a reflection on how trail systems are made on the Island. 

"The person doing the work made serious errors. But we're stepping up and taking our licks and working to fix it. This was somebody who didn't understand the rules and regulations. As a federation we'll work with all of our clubs to ensure this doesn't happen again."

Mellish also acknowledged the locals had every right to be upset by the damage and said that club members were presently working on the trail system laying down straw and hay as well as grass seed.

"The straw is used as a protective barrier. It will slow down the water flow and absorb most of it and slow down the barren soil. Hopefully we can learn from this and move forward." 

But Gamble says there is no going back. 

"There are huge environmental impacts. There's such blatant disregard. There's nothing they can do to take back the damage done. There's huge soil erosion already happening. They're not thinking about our wilderness." 


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