After years of both sides revving their engines, Princeton council voted Monday night to ban the use of motorized vehicles on both the Trans Canada Trail through town, as well as on private property within municipal boundaries.
“The whole point of this bylaw is to take liability off the town’s shoulders,” said councillor Doug Pateman. “The bylaw is in place to protect the town.”
About a dozen ATV riders attended Monday night’s meeting, and were vocal in their continued resistance to a motorized ban.
“This is nuts. This is just nuts,” declared one trail user.
Vic Bartell, chairperson of the Similkameen Riders Association, told councillors they risk hurting local business by closing the local trail to ATV operators.
“The people that own ATVs are in the higher income bracket. Keeping them out of here is not what Princeton wants to do.”
After the meeting, Bartell said his group will work with council to find alternatives for motorized vehicle riders, including finding a bypass around the Trans Canada Trail.
“I will still work in an amiable manner towards making Princeton an ATV friendly town,” said Bartell.
With the passing of the bylaw the municipal enforcement officer, as well as the RCMP, will be able to ticket people operating off-road vehicles in the Town of Princeton. The fine for a first offense is $250, and subsequent offenses will be fined at $500 each.
Eighteen months ago council considered a similar bylaw, and temporarily shelved the proposal in face of strong opposition, particularly from residents of Area H in the regional district.
Pateman then chaired a committee representing interested groups. “At the end of the discussions the consensus was that the Trans Canada Trail through the town boundary must remain as non-motorized,” stated a staff report prepared by CAO Rick Zerr.
The same report referenced a 2013 recreation survey that indicated 68 per cent of Princeton residents believe the Trans Canada Trail is the area’s most valuable natural resource, and support for keeping the trail non-motorized outweighed the alternative by three to one.
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