WALTON: The president of Fundy ATV believes a decision by the province to introduce a series of pilot projects aimed at boosting off-highway trail connections is a “small step in the right direction” for off-highway vehicles in Nova Scotia.

Greg Grant, who is also the secretary of the ATVANS (All-Terain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia) which makes up 43 clubs across the province and has over 5,000 individual members, said the announcement by the province last week has many people like himself very happy.

“If it works out it will go a long ways in helping to create a trail system that connects from one end of the province to the other, which has been a main goal of both the ATVANS and SANS organization for many years,” said Grant in an email interview.

In a press release, Nova Scotia says it is working to introduce a series of pilot projects to boost off-highway trail connections. The pilots will increase opportunities for off-highway vehicle users who hold a valid driver’s license to operate within the right of way on select sections of provincial roads. Nine communities being considered for the pilot project, and Walton is one of those.

The others are: Amherst, Cumberland Co.; Milton, Queens Co.; Mira Gut, Cape Breton Regional Municipality; New Germany, Lunenburg Co.; Porters Lake, Halifax Regional Municipality; Sherbrooke, Guysborough Co.; Ship Harbour, Halifax Regional Municipality; and Weymouth, Digby Co.

“More access along many of the unpaved roads in the province and access to amenities within communities along highways has many benefits for families who enjoy this type of activity and for the entire tourism economy of Nova Scotia,” said Dan Fraser, president of the Isle Royale ATV Club in Sydney in a release.

Grant agrees.

“This creates a legal way for OHV users to get to the amenities in Walton like the store, the gas station, and the Walton Pub for food,” he said. “Making it legal is just a way to make it safer really, it is better to have them traveling in a controlled manner than just trying to get to where they are heading as fast as they can in case they get caught.

He said areas like the one in Walton was one of the two reasons the OHV groups worked so hard to make this happen, so they can access services.

“The other reason is to be able to connect from one trail to another where they can’t otherwise do it for landowner reasons, or because it simply isn’t economically feasible for a club to build a trail to join them for any number of reasons,” said Grant. “The idea, at least from the provincial organizations was never to have access to every inch of highway, just where it made sense and could be done safely. There are several areas in the province where this can work and hopefully this pilot project will work well and we can add the others in.”

Grant said this will benefit the economy in rural N.S.

“The Walton Pub is a fine example of a rural business that benefits from the OHV community as it is one of the more popular spots for OHVers in Nova Scotia, and the owners of the Pub are not shy in telling people that ATVers and snowmobilers are a large part of their business. These people welcome us there in large groups and the Walton Whopper is a recognized meal by many OHV users from all over Nova Scotia.”

He’s hopeful of the pilot project’s success.

“I really hope that this pilot project works out well for the province,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for OHVers and the rural businesses, and I would hate for a couple of bad apples to ruin it.

“As long as everyone on the road, whether in a highway vehicle or an OHV, or on foot is mindful and respectful of each other and the rules that are put in place surrounding this I truly believe we won’t have any problems.”