Thursday November 27, 2014

From this Corner
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I had a punchy editorial written for this space. I wrote it last week, but the publisher voiced strong objections to its publication. My newsroom crew bristled at the censorship, but she’s the boss.

The editorial took the City to task for their seeming reluctance to notify the public of vandalism at the CUPlex March 18. A tip from a reader led us to the story and, to be fair, once the question was asked, nothing was held back. The information just wasn’t volunteered.

I tried to pitch it again for this edition, but when she found out I wasn’t going to be in the office Thursday to absorb any resulting heat she didn’t make a happy face. I decided it wasn’t worth ruining her day over.

Writing anything critical of the City always seems to land the newsroom in hot water. There are long lasting shockwaves from an ill fated April Fool’s Day prank a year ago. So, at our publisher’s behest, we try not to ruffle any feathers over at City Hall.

So let’s move on to Town Hall, where there was a lengthy discussion this week about quad runner damage to the Trans Canada walking trail and hiking trails on Finlayson Island. Alex McPhail’s story about what was said will be published in next Wednesday’s News-Optimist.

One solution floated during the discussions was creating a designated quad park. Great idea. May as well situate it along the North Saskatchewan and Battle Rivers. The damage created by the machines in those areas is already so extensive it would likely take thousands of years to heal if an effective means of banning the machines was ever devised.

The councillors mused it is really the job of the RCMP to enforce laws governing where quads can be ridden. Quads may not be operated within town limits, but they are. All the time. They zoom past my house on a regular basis on their way into the river valley. Their frequent passage has destroyed native prairie on the crest of the hill beside Eiling Kramer Campground, and has created a huge gorge into the valley that used to be a fun toboggan run.

I used to call the RCMP when I saw quads being operated illegally. I can even recall an instance where a quad driver was cornered by police officers and had his machine hauled away on a Vista Towing flat deck. Since then the quad jockeys have taken the upper hand.

And these aren’t just kids. I have often seen an adult resident of my neighbourhood lead his young boys down over the hill after driving right down the street in front of my house.

Why do they do it? Because nothing is going to happen to them. I’ve given up reporting such incidents because the RCMP do not really seem to care. I expect they have bigger fish to fry. In the meantime the invasion spreads from simply ruining great tracts of shoreline and valley landscape, to our walking and hiking trails. Be ready to drive into the bush when you’re out for a walk this spring.

Town councillors recognize there is a problem and their idea for a quad park has merit. In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas to help them and the RCMP quell the rising tide of illegal ATV operation, pass them on.

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