| May 07, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - May 7, 2009 Love-in over ATV trails in Sharbot Lake.By Jeff Green

If everyone took the same view as the audience at an open meeting over the proposed K&P trail in Sharbot Lake last week, (April 30), a multi-purpose trail allowing everything from hikers, to snow machines and ATVs and everything in between, would be approved in a flash from the border between South and Central Frontenac and Sharbot Lake.

That's the kind of trails that are run by the Eastern Ontario Trails Alliance, a Tweed-based group that runs a network of trails from Hastings County to the Quebec border. Much of the funding for the EOTA trails system comes from the sale of ATV passes and the growing ATV touring market.

Most of the people at the meeting expressed support for the EOTA model, and said it did not conflict with non-motorized use of trails.

Don Fenwick, from the Yarker area, sat for six years on the management board for the Cataraqui Trail. The board has resisted ATV use of trails. Fenwick said, “4-wheelers should be allowed on certain portions of trails and on other portions they would be diverted to the roads. Trying to prohibit them entirely leads only to problems. But whatever we do here, we should remember that these rail corridors will never come again. If we don't take advantage of the K&P rail line, there will never be a corridor for a trail in Frontenac County”.

The public meeting in Sharbot Lake, and a meeting in Verona a couple of days earlier, which was not quite a love-in over motorized trails, were sponsored by the Trails Committee of Frontenac County Council. In addition to staff members and representatives from trails groups, the committee includes councilors from each of the four Frontenac townships.

Deputy Mayor Gary Smith is the trails rep. for Central Frontenac Township. He conducted the meeting in Sharbot Lake, and said there has been a varied response, ranging from the enthusiasm of the people at last week’s meeting, to people who “have told us point blank, 'not over my dead body; it's not going to happen'”.

The committee is charged with looking at a variety of issues, including the concerns of people whose properties abut the trail and who in some cases have built houses within metres of the old rail line. As well, portions of the trail between Tichborne and Sharbot Lake have been sold off, making it difficult to see how a continuous trail can be established from the borders of the City of Kingston to the Trans Canada trail that passes through Sharbot Lake on the east-west axis.

“The fallback for those sold-off lands, and it is not an ideal one, is the township roads,” said Smith.

“We need all the economic help we can get back here,” said Central Frontenac Councilor Bob Harvey, “and ATV tourism is a growing thing”.

The County trails committee will be preparing a draft master plan for trails to present to county council later this spring.

Deputy Mayor Jim Beam is the rep. for North Frontenac Township and Alan McPhail is the rep. for South Frontenac on the committee. 

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