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Talk of booze tours on Millennium Trail prompts examination of bylaws

Hearing the “chatter” in the community about a new venture inviting people to off-road in a six-person 4×4 along the Millennium Trail to favourite wine, cider and brewery stops, council has asked municipal staff for a report on rules and uses of the trail.

Councillors Brad Nieman and Phil St.-Jean say it’s time for the 2001 bylaws to be updated, noting some of the uses now were not thought of then, such as golf carts, e-scooters and e-bikes.

“It’s time to look at all the uses and determine what is appropriate 22 years later,” said St.-Jean.

Council learned that commercial use of the trail is already under way with rentals of bicycles, horseback riding and all-terrain vehicles.

Comments from the audience objected to alcohol-fueled trail adventures using heavy off-road vehicles designed to carry up to six people on private tours, birthday, bachelorette and bachelor parties. Speed was also a concern – some stretches at 50kms/hr.

The trail, at nine feet wide with gravel edges, it was noted, was not designed for a vehicle described as the size of a Toyota Corolla. It was also stated that a company wanting to offer horse-drawn carriage rides was denied some years ago.

CAO Marcia Wallace noted the issue is complicated and advised council to use caution about making quick decisions or changes to the current bylaw without first receiving a report.

As it stands currently, there is nothing in the bylaw that would prohibit the tour activity.

The report, due in June, is to look at recreational purposes and use, as well as examining provisions permitting commercial services and licencing agreements, as well as any risk and liability associated.

“We need the information from staff to have a fulsome discussion and know what people can and can’t do moving forward, and uses of the trail,” said Nieman. “That’s what we need.”

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  1. Teena says:

    Tourism is fine. However, it’s seasonal (and here that really just means summer months), and low paying, temporary employment, with few options for accommodation for employees. We really need some sort of industry (and no, not at any cost), and I have no idea how the County is going to attract that. It’s all just sad. Tourism isn’t a real “fix” for the area. The only ones who really benefit are the operators, and many just pack up and disappear at the end of the season.

  2. Paul D Cole says:

    The downward spiral of the tourist industry in Prince Edward County has nothing to do with recent decisions, (which recent decisions are you talking about?) The fickle nature of tourism in PEC is historically documented all one has to do is look around at all the failed lodges and even motel and accommodation type businesses. When there is a down turn in the economy, inflation, high gas prices and eventually a recession the first thing to get cut from the Family budget is the Family vacation. These things have happened before in the County many times, tourism can’t be everything because of its boom then bust nature. That being said, commercialization of the Millennium Trail is just a bad idea. I mean next thing you know, folks with properties along the Trail will be approached about setting up a small food stand along the Trail. It’s a huge can of worms that nobody really wants to see opened.

  3. Dan says:

    Don’t worry Teena, tourism in PEC is on downward spiral. Soon locals will have beaches and millennium trail mostly to themselves.
    No need for locals to acquire special parking passes. Less traffic , fewer lineups. Recent decisions deter local tourism. We are now more than ever, poised to become a retirement community.
    Business’s will also move on from the county.

  4. Angus Ross says:

    Limit the Millennium Trail to vehicles carrying no more than 2 persons. Problem solved.

  5. Louise Powers says:

    So many walkers, courteous snowmobilers, ATV users and at times horses use the trails now but, we are ordinary citizens enjoying our beutiful countryside. The key word to consider is “commercialization” of the millenium trail which will open up a pandoras box of unwanted congestion or noise and responsibilities of maintenance or repairs equalling costs perhaps laid at the feet of taxpayers. Once a commercial approval is granted what’s next. Public spaces will no longer be considered at the expense of profit. When trains travelled the trail they ran on heavy rails that were regulatly maintained by the railway company, it was commercial, public NOT allowed. We are past that now, the trails are public spaces for everyone to enjoy but NOT FOR PROFIT.

  6. Teena says:

    Can’t we leave something in The County that doesn’t depend on tourism? Pretty please?

  7. angela says:

    @Michelle – The county always may have been known for boozers but it was also the campaign headquarters of Letitia Youmans.

  8. Michelle says:

    The County is famous for booze! We were the Rum Runners to Oswego New York during prohibition after all. Like it or hate it’s our legacy.

  9. angela says:

    Sad day for the county when the wineries and the tourists they draw arrived. No place on the trail for wine tours. The trail was a quiet place to enjoy nature but of course we could not allow that to last for long. There is no longer a place for the locals in Prince Edward County. Surely these wine tours can take place on county roads rather than on a nature trail.

  10. Henri Garand says:

    From Spring 2021 to Fall 2022, my wife and I walked the Millennium Trail twice. We walked early and late in the morning, over noon hours, and into late afternoons. No matter the time or section of trail we seldom met other walkers but many cyclists and a few dirt bike riders. We also met ATV users virtually every time and usually stood aside out of harm’s way. Most were courteous in slowing down so as not to stir up dust. But the worst ATVers were those travelling in packs of three or more. One woman driver even cursed me for obstructing her way and shouted that the speed limit was 50 kph. Presumably she thought this gave her the right to cover us in dust.

    Happily, we don’t intend to walk much of the trail again and certainly don’t envy those who will face even larger packed vehicles tearing along and tearing up the trail. It’s a pity that people can’t just enjoy the trail as a natural experience rather than as a thoroughfare or a raceway.

  11. Barb Mason says:

    In regards to your comment. Single track in the middle perhaps… but not trains passing side by side… have you ridden a bike and passed another cyclist and not brushed through the wild parsnip?? Good luck with those drunk bachelorettes with those burns!!! LOL

  12. Viju Menon says:

    Trails are meant for walking and biking, please leave them be and don’t spoil the natural surroundings with gas fumes.

  13. Mark Burrowes says:

    So is it better people are doing wine tours is a designated driver driven side x side, or possibly driving their self after several stops and drinks? I think we know the answer. In regards to the statement the trai wasnt designed for vehicles that size” ….. excuse me but have you measured a train? that is what 95% of the trail was designed for, a train.

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