The sun hasn’t set on a cross-town snowmobile trail in Kenora.
Kenora city council approved the Sunset Trail Riders’ cross-town corridor running from Rabbit Lake to Golf Course Bay on Lake of the Woods at its regular council meeting Oct. 17.
The city has been without a cross-town snowmobile trail since the spring of 2007 and, while it wasn’t a campaign issue, Mayor Dave Canfield re-opened the discussions toward creating a corridor to bring sledders back off the trails and into town, which he said would boost winter tourism dollars.
"As leaders of this community, if we were to say no to this corridor, I think our neighbours would have good opportunity to poke fun at us because this is a leadership role in moving something forward that’s going to enhance the economic development of our community, it’s as simple as that," he said before a recorded vote Monday.
"Our main motive for the trail is we think the city needs to attract more visitors in the winter and we have several testimonials from both visitors and businesses alike that the old corridor has been missed," said Shaun Clifford, a spokesman for the snowmobile club, in a deputation to council prior to the vote. "The trail is going to be a long-term benefit for the city and will draw in many visitors during the winter season."
While Clifford spoke to a number of reenforcing comments received through the city’s website surrounding the corridor, not all were positive, specifically surrounding the club’s permit system, which Don Kinger argued in a deputation of his own is cost prohibitive for local residents.
"The snow machine club is not interested in tourism, they’re interested in connecting their north and south trails," he charged. "This tourism bit is just a little ploy for them to have that."
Coun. Rory McMillan and Coun. Sharon Smith were the only councillors to vote against the motion — which includes five conditions, including that the club assume liability insurance and all maintenance costs. Both stated the permit system, which falls under provincial legislation, needs to be addressed.
Coun. Charito Drinkwalter noted the issue was on the radar of the previous council, which opted to lobby the province to address the permit regulations, but said while the city can continue to pressure for changes from the province, "it’s time to move on with this issue."
The proposed corridor begins at Rabbit Lake and leads south toward Round Lake where it follows Railway Street near the Treaty 3 Police headquarters. From there it works its way out to Laurenson’s Creek, crosses the lake and emerges alongside the Kenora Jail.
The trail continues along the East Highway onto Miikana Way, offering access to Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart, crosses through Anicinabe Park out onto Golf Course Bay on Lake of the Woods.
Council recorded a 4-2 vote in support of the trail. Canfield also voted in support.
The city’s approval is contingent on the Sunset Trail Riders picking up the tab for all costs, written permission with all affected landowners and Treaty 3 and proof of liability insurance in the amount of $5 million. The use of loud "tune pipes" is prohibited, as is access to the trail between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.