To the Editor:
I am an avid user of the Millennium Trail and recognize this beautiful community asset as a real gem in our city parks network. I am also in the unique position of being chair of the recreation and community services standing committee of council and we are able to celebrate this asset, as well as identify issues and propose recommendations for consideration of council.
As the spring season tantalizes residents in Thompson with outdoor activity, a number of concerns with the Millennium Trail have reached the ears of council and have been discussed at length at our recreation committee. I can say for certain that the staff at the recreation department work diligently to maintain the trail and there are plans in place in the 2012 budget to extend the trail, however we do recognize that significant reinvestment in the existing trail network will need to be considered by council in 2013. However, capital investment aside, our community is still challenged to find a way to address inappropriate use of the trails – and by this I mean ATV-users that insist on using the Millennium Trail network.
I believe our community recognizes ATV use as a form of recreational activity, and we want to encourage recreation in all types and forms, however the damage to the trails and safety concerns to residents is very real and very good reason for ATVs to stay off these trails! Unfortunately not all residents respect this. Some bad apples have gone so far as pull out the barricades designed to keep them out, so they can motor down these trails.
Personally, I make a point to remind ATV users that I meet on the Millennium Trail that motorized vehicles are not suppose to be on the trails. However, just the other day I reminded such a resident I met on the trail, and their response was, "Yeah, I know." This is unacceptable, and to the driver (you know who you are) all I can say is, shame. Thompson residents deserve better. Council can choose to direct resources to maintenance, capital, and even enforcement to keep the bad apples off the trails; however I believe that the most effective way to keep inappropriate users off the trail is for users to foster a culture of respect and police it themselves. I'd like to challenge residents to call out ATV users on the Millennium Trail and to make a point to educate one another. Thompson residents deserve to celebrate this beautiful community asset, safely and for years to come. Please keep motorized vehicles OFF the Millennium Trail.
Coun. Erin Hogan
Chair of Recreation and Community Services Standing Committee of Council