The pro and con sides of changing the bike route into North Hatley
By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
A current local hot topic is a proposed change to the route of the bike path in North Hatley from the dam south into the center of town. The issue led to an emotional outburst at the town’s most recent council meeting. The Record spoke with town resident Michael Grayson (who recently argued his case in front of the town council), and former town councillor Michael Munkittrick, to get articulate positions on both sides of the matter.
From the dam, the bike path currently turns right up a short hill and then left down Route 108 (Capelton Road) into the heart of North Hatley. The proposed change involves the route turning left initially at the dam onto a bridge that crosses the Massawippi River and then turning right, through some currently private property, eventually entering North Hatley via Chemin de la Rivière.
Grayson made his case for the pro side (the path should be changed), Munkittrick for the con side (the path should not be changed).
Grayson – Pro
“It’s 75 per cent a safety issue,” Grayson began, which entails that a change would make for a both more relaxing and pleasant ride. Though the new route would pass by a sewage plant, it would also be more scenic, he noted. “It’s a more welcoming route.”
While there is a clear safety issue, Grayson said, it is strange that in the 30-year existence of this current route he knows of no real accidents or incidents. There must have been some near misses, he added. Cyclists are forced to swerve out of the narrow lane available along the 108 into traffic, he insisted. “Do we have to wait for an accident to happen before we do anything?”
We should be preventive, he continued, and do what was suggested 30 years ago when the trail was opened. At the time, it was suggested that the route should cross the river at the dam and continue along the old railway track path. But the town refused that option. The other option offered was to continue along the river on its west side, but at least one owner of the private lands involved was against the idea, he said. Thus, they decided to go along the 108, which is an accident waiting to happen, he repeated.