By Richard Bell
Last month, we reported that the Department of Natural Resources had sent a letter to the Marine Riders ATV Club advising the club “DNR will be issuing a letter of authority (LOA) for the construction, operation, and management of a non-motorized trail to the Shore Active Transportation Association (SATA).” The roughly10km trail, known for now as the Gaetz Brook Connector, will be built on the abandoned railroad right-of-way running from Head of Chezzetcook to Musquodoboit Harbour.
But as Patricia Richards, chair of SATA, explained to the Cooperator, DNR is still far from actually issuing this letter of authority. “What we’ve been given by DNR is the go ahead to proceed towards a LOA,” Richards said. “It’s not straight-forward. DNR has a procedure of 10 steps that you have to go through before they issue a formal LOA. The first step is for SATA to send out a letter to all the abutting landowners to the trail to let them know about the plan and get their reactions."
SATA will be conducting two open house presentations on the proposed Gaetz Brook trail on May 29, 2017. The first open house will run from 4:00 to 6:30 pm, and the second from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the Chezzetcook & District Lions Community Centre, 89 East Chezzetcook Road. SATA will also hold its AGM at the same location from 6:30 to 7:00pm.
Richards said most new trail projects run into disputes about property lines, as well as entirely new issues. “We’re looking forward to working with the community and the abutting property owners,” Richards said. “And if we find ourselves at loggerheads over some issue, we’ll just have to take that issue to DNR and say, ‘Here’s what we’ve found, and here’s what we think we can do,’ and let DNR decide.”
Richards said the first priority would be to get the trail’s three bridges into shape. The consulting engineering firm CBCL Ltd. produced a study in 2016 for SATA of the needed bridge repairs. In the meantime, the organization has already put information on its website about the state of the proposed trail now, about the engineering study of the bridge repairs, and some preliminary design work.
Efforts to develop the Gaetz Brook Connector as a formal trail have been going on for many years. DNR’s decision in favour of a non-motorized trail ends a competition between SATA and the Marine Riders ATV group, both of which had been competing for the LOA to develop the trail.
Jim Crowell, president of the Marine Riders, told the Cooperator the club not met yet to discuss DNR’s decision. “All I know is that DNR has offered an opportunity to SATA to develop the trail,” Crowell said. “Now there’s a process, a 10-step process, in order for them to acquire it. It will be an expensive undertaking. Trail building is not cheap. They’re just at the beginning of the beginning.”