Mike Gielas explains to council the concerns residents had raised about a snowmobile route on Goldfield Drive. (Juliet Kadzviti/The Interlake Spectator/Postmedia Network)
The RM of Gimli council chambers were filled to the brim Feb. 8, with a delegation of unhappy residents who wanted council to reject a proposed snowmobile route on Goldfield Drive.
Interlake Snow Trackers had initially asked council Jan. 5 , to amend their operation of snowmobiles by-law to allow for a route on the boulevards of Goldfield Drive from Highway 9 to Lake Winnipeg, and along Second Street from Goldfield Drive to the town public parking lot situated across the Gimli Theatre.
Council eventually approved the new route Feb.8, but not without a rousing discussion.
The delegation, led by Mike Gielas (who was representing 31 people), armed with six supporting letters from residents, raised concerns about a route coming to the neighbourhood.
Gielas explained that discussions about this route had come up before in 2015 and council had rejected the idea.
“I’m a little confused why I am here again today,” he told council, before explaining what he felt would be the negative effects of a new route. Amongst them he listed, noise pollution, increased, heavy traffic already on Goldfield Drive, property value decreasing, the effect on quality of life and a general disdain with the idea of a new route.
“We just don’t want it,” he said.
He added, as far as the delegation was concerned, the RM did not properly inform them about the proposed route.
“You must not accept this.,” Gielas said. “Anything beyond that would be considered by-law bullying.”
Mike Chudd, who represented the Interlake Snow Trackers at the meeting, was given an opportunity to rebut the opposing delegation. He told council he had carefully considered all the factors and found it was not an unreasonable request.
“No one is getting knocked down by snowmobiles,” he said, adding the RCMP had expressed their support for the proposed route.
He told council it would be unfair to make a decision based on a “not in my backyard” position from opposing residents.
He said snowmobiles, like most vehicles, were required to pass stringent omissions tests before being allowed into circulation, hence refuting the claim they would have a negative impact on the environment.
Chudd also said the route would attract more snowmobilers to stop in Gimli and have easy access to the business district, creating more business opportunities in the area.
“Gimli is a tourist town. (The route) will bring more tourist dollars to the community,” he said.
Residents were given an opportunity to express their views after the two presentations.
One resident, told council there was already too much traffic on the road. Another said council had not given them proper notification of the proposed change.
Mayor Randy Woroniuk chimed into the discussion, telling council he had lived on a snowmobile route and besides noise (that wakes him up occasionally) coming from the snowmobiles, his quality of life was not affected.
“I don’t see the impact on quality of life,” he said.
The route was approved and will be in effect until the end of winter or the first snow melt. Council added it would be trial route, for the rest of the season.