P.E.I.'s Confederation Trail will not be opened up to use by all-terrain vehicles, the provincial government said Thursday, with the province instead supporting the Island's ATV Federation in developing a new network of trails for riders of the machines.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure released a report Thursday on the public feedback it gathered about the provincewide trail network during a review in the fall of 2023.
"Access to the Confederation Trail will remain for the exclusive use of people on foot, bicycle or wheelchair. Equestrians can still use designated areas of the trail on a trial basis," the province said in a news release.
"ATVs will still be able to use legal crossings in rural areas. In the winter, snowmobiles have exclusive access."
The consultations had drawn some concern from members of the public and MLAs over the possibility that ATVs would be allowed on the trails as the result of the province's review, with critics saying they were worried about safety, trail damage and noise.
The P.E.I. Snowmobile Association leases the trail during the winter, while mostly walkers, runners and cyclists use it during the rest of the year.
'It’s just going to be phenomenal for our sport,' says P.E.I. ATV Federation president Jody Jackson about government funding to help develop an Island-wide trail system for all-terrain vehicle users. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC)
Though they still won't be allowed full use of the Confederation Trail, the province is providing up to $100,000 in funding to help the ATV Federation develop a plan for an Island-wide network of trails that riders of motorized vehicles can use.
The government will also require the federation to:
Strengthen and build relationships with property owners, communities and businesses;
Enhance its consent process for getting access to private land;
Raise awareness and educate riders about laws and safety;
Consult provincial departments on topics such as environmental protection and conservation, safety and Crown land access.
Jody Jackson, president of the P.E.I. ATV Federation, said he's encouraged by the province's commitment to create a tip-to-tip trail for riders.
"There was a lot of passion ignited in the fall around access to select points along the Confederation Trail. Our overall goal, though, has always been to create a safe, sustainable, legal ATV trail on P.E.I., so I think this is a major step towards that," he said in an interview with CBC News Thursday afternoon.
"It's just going to be phenomenal for our sport."
Jackson said the federation is waiting for the province to pass legislation in the spring to allow an annual registration for ATVs, as opposed to the one-time fee that's currently imposed when people buy a vehicle. He said a portion of that revenue will go to the federation for building and maintaining sections of the new trail network.