Snowmobile trail debate brings police to council meeting

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Added: Wed, 07/18/2018 - 10:25pm
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Allyson Beauregard

MUNICIPALITY OF
PONTIAC – The police were among the nearly 50 attendees at the July 10 council meeting after several derogatory comments were made toward Mayor Joanne Labadie in response to a social media post made by the Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers' Association (PSDA). The PSDA's post expressed concern about the closure of the Curley Lake Road snowmobile trail that links the municipality to Masham and Wolf Lake and has since been removed.
With Curley Lake Road abandoned and in very poor condition,
the National Capital Commission (NCC) is hoping to reclaim it, which would end snowmobile access. The PSDA, who admitted the online
comments went too far, stressed the negative effect the closure of the road would have on winter tourism, making the Pontiac a dead end to the rest of the region if there is no immediate alternative to the closed trail.
The municipality confirmed the Curley Lake Road trail will remain open for the 2018-2019 snowmobile season; there is no set closure date. Plans are in the works to eventually establish a “tourism and recreational multipurpose link” between Pontiac and La Pêche near the Eardley-Masham road, but the PSDA maintains Curley Lake Road mustn't be closed before a new trail is built.
“We need to make it loud and clear to council and municipal management that the current trail must not be closed prior to the new trail being opened. Otherwise, we lose the leverage needed to have the new trail built (to get the NCC to help plan a new acceptable route). Don't let history repeat itself; we have lost enough trails to the NCC,” said the PSDA in an online post.
During the meeting, council resolved to remove a tabled resolution authorizing the mayor and director general to “enter negotiations with its partners in order to establish a recreational-tourism link between the municipalities of Pontiac and La Pêche, along the Eardley-Masham Road ... [involving] the PSDA in the negotiations”.
“Council wants to have a second look at the project at the next caucus meeting in August to be sure to build a larger consensus in the community before sitting with the NCC,” said Dominic Labrie, municipal communications officer, who claimed both the NCC and Labadie believe the two projects - closing the old trail and creating a new one - are “inseparable”. 
In response to the meeting, the PSDA released an official statement saying they will continue to work with the NCC, the Ministry of Transport and the snowmobile federation on the Curley Lake Road trail relocation project and that they want to have the municipality and council involved. “We also hope to continue open discussions with the municipality and council on snowmobiling in the area and it’s support to the local economy,” it concluded.