Alix village council agreed they don’t feel more rules are needed for snowmobiles on the hiking trail or the nearby lake. The issue was discussed at the Feb. 2 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with a public complaint about off-highway vehicles (OHVs) accessing Alix Lake from the popular nature trail, a hiking trail which skirts the water body.
“The resident raised concerns about the increase in size, weight and power of OHVs being used today versus the ones used in 1992 when the OHV bylaw was approved,” stated White in her report to council.
“It was noted that the larger OHVs could/would do more damage to the riparian areas.” White added that she felt the concern about larger OHVs was legitimate and that councillors may need to consider that.
A photograph was presented to councillors of snowmobile tracks on the hiking trail.
White quoted excerpts from the bylaw which currently allows vehicles such as quads and snowmobiles to travel through the village with the intention of heading to the frozen lake and using only the most direct route and alleys; this is in effect from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31 every winter.
The CAO noted that if any updates were made to the OHV bylaw some costs, such as new signage, would be incurred by the village.
White suggested a few courses of action for councillors, including conducting a public information campaign explaining how OHVs can damage habitat or that OHV enthusiasts use only the boat launch area to access the lake.
Mayor Rob Fehr stated that to the best of his knowledge the snowmobile tracks on the hiking trail were intentionally done as a way to tamp down the snow for hikers and make the trail easier to use for residents.
Fehr also stated he doesn’t think that many snowmobilers actually end up on the lake, although he’s heard a concern about one snowmobile with a “high pitched whine.”
Fehr asked if the village receives a lot of complaints about snowmobiles on Alix Lake. White stated only one complaint came in, the one that was presented to council.
Mayor Fehr responded he didn’t see snowmobiles on the lake as a big problem although if the village begins to get a lot of complaints about OHVs, that could change.
Coun. Tim Besuijen noted councillors have discussed this issue before and it appears only limited areas are affected by OHVs and it looks like the operators are using the same spot to get onto the frozen lake.
Besuijen stated he appreciates the resident’s concerns but it doesn’t appear this is a serious problem.
Coun. Barb Gilliat suggested asking the local nature trail society to contact the village if they see any trouble or damage caused by OHV use.
Coun. Janice Besuijen noted she walks around the lake via the nature trail perhaps once a week and hasn’t noticed anything that’s a red flag.
Councillors unanimously accepted the resident’s concerns as information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter