The public consultation on the future uses for the Shearwater Flyer has begun. A local company WSP won the provincial contract (with HRM financial assistance) to conduct the study. From WSP:
The overall objective of this project is for WSP to conduct community consultation as an objective third party and provide unbiased recommendations (for) the best future public use of the Trail based on community feedback.
WSP has put together a survey to collect the public's thoughts on the Flyer as part of "Shearwater Flyer Trail Community Consultation". You are highly encouraged to participate and spread the word. It is on-line at : https://www.surveymonkey.
com/r/shearwaterflyer and is available until 20 November 2020.
Here is the position of Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association (CHPTA) on this issue:
CHPTA formally started this process at our 2018 AGM where the membership unanimously endorsed that the Board ask the Minister of Lands and Forestry to make our system, including the Shearwater Flyer non-motorized. In order to allow as many people as possible to make submissions to CHPTA on the issue, we did not ask the Minister until 30 April 2019. During that time there were several events where various opinions were stated both pro and con. The pushback from ATV supporters (there is no ATV club in the local area) was "passionate" but did not include any practical steps to resolve our concerns.
CHPTA since its inception has been dedicated to the quiet enjoyment of nature, active transportation (human powered) and health in the Cole Harbour Basin and surrounding areas. This led to the construction and maintenance of the Cole Harbour Heritage Park, the Salt Marsh and Shearwater Flyer Trails on provincial land.
CHPTA built the Flyer over several years in the early 2000's. From the beginning we attempted to work with local ATV supporters to meet the Minister's direction that the Flyer be a "shared use" trail. Since that time CHPTA has become increasingly frustrated trying to keep this trail up to standard while adhering to our principal objective. A brief overview follows and a more comprehensive document can be found in the 'Documents' tab.
- The Flyer is more expensive and more difficult to fund as a result of ATV access. In 2019, CHPTA spent over $33K on the Flyer of which over $28K was to repair or deal with ATV damage.
- No local ATV organization has stepped up to help in maintenance or peer enforcement of regulations. We have provided several opportunities that were not taken up. Despite assertions by some people, ATVers did not build the trail and there is very little evidence of ATVers doing any significant repair/maintenance on the trail. Our volunteers get out very soon after weather events to do assessment and cleanup.
- By contrast, trail wardens have logged 7993 hours on 5694 outings (average 84 minutes) over the last four years.
- There is increasing ATV damage to surrounding lands, including waterways and wetlands that border the trail. The damage is disturbing to the many users looking for the "quiet enjoyment of nature". Our trail wardens have been documenting CHPTA work on all of our trails and in the Park in monthly reports. You can see the reports at http://www.chpta.org/p/
- Based on our 15 plus years of experience on this trail, the increasingly suburban environment and the damage seen on and off the trail, shared use of motor vehicles with walkers and bikers is neither desirable nor sustainable.
CHPTA will continue to provide information. Our commitment to the quiet enjoyment of nature is steadfast. Feel free to contact us by email or phone with questions or comments.