Trail of destruction
Mo Laidlaw

Last weekend, 29 May 2004, two men on an ATV rode along the former rail-line between côte McKay and Elm road in Breckenridge, breaking down barriers and signs in their way. “We were just having a good time. It’s only the old railway track,” one said when asked why they ignored signs indicating that they were on private property, and that motorized vehicles were not allowed.

MRC des Collines police caught up with the two men on Elm road, sitting bareheaded on their ATV, which had no licence plate. By law, all-terrain vehicles must be registered, and riders must wear helmets. ATVs may not be operated on a public road, or on private property without the express consent of the owner. The riders were escorted back to Lavigne road.

Owners of the former rail-line have been struggling to keep ATVs and snowmobiles off the old track for years, to reduce cottage break-ins, garbage dumping, and damage to woodlots, ditches and fences. Various “walker-friendly” barriers were constructed, to allow dog-walking neighbours and others to walk, provided they respected the natural area, but keep out motorized vehicles. Several of these barriers now have to be rebuilt or reinforced.

This incursion reinforces the fears of some Breckenridge residents. “If residential cul-de-sacs become a through-route for bicycles, as part of the Aylmer to Wyman recreational trail, nothing will stop ATVs from using the trail illegally,” said Marie-Claude Pineau, who collected 65 signatures from Lilas and McKay area, against this route for the bicycle trail. She feels strongly that ATV riders need official trails, not on private property.

Police caught up with ATV on Elm road.

Fence posts and signs tossed aside.

A destroyed barrier.