Concerns over the future of a popular snowmobile trail continue to grow in Happy Valley- Goose Bay. In November it became known that the town is planning to develop residential properties in the Hefler Street area. The town has also proposed to build a road that would connect the new neighbourhood with Palliser Street. The planned location of that road would cover a large portion of an often-used snowmobile trail.
The trail has existed for several decades. For many people in Happy Valley, the trail provides important access to wood in the wintertime.
Ray Oliver, a resident of Cabot Crescent, has been cutting his wood at Burn point for decades. Ever since 1967, he’s been using the trail to access that site and haul the wood back into town.
“”Wood is my main source of heat. I got no electric heat in my house what so ever,” says Oliver.
Every weekend, during the winter, Oliver gets a fresh load of wood. If the new street blocks the access trail, he says he’ll have to use an alternate route behind Saunders street. But he says there are two steep hills there, which would make his travel more inconvenient and less safe. And, for Oliver, hauling wood on the shoulder of a road is out of the question.
“I don’t feel very confident about that, especially in the spring when the road is bare,” says Oliver. “It’s going to be pretty difficult. The existing trail is pretty important to me.”
Oliver has brought his concerns to Town Council. He is hoping they will take his words into consideration and put the road elsewhere.
“I don’t see the need for it, because there’s lots of other places where they can build a housing area,” says Oliver. “All of Goose Bay is flat land.”
Another Valley resident, Manuel Davis, also cuts his wood at Burn Point and also uses the access trail to get there.
“I use it all winter. That’s the only way I go, is across there,” says Davis. “That road would cut me right off.”
Like Ray Oliver, Davis has used the trail for hauling his wood for decades. If he loses the access trail, he may start cutting wood somewhere else, instead of Burn Point where he’s cut wood most of his life.
“They’re cutting all the trails off,” says Davis. “They’ve left some (groomed trails) in back, but that’s just for pleasure. I use trails for work.”
“It’s a convenience for the Town but they don’t look at the inconvenience for the individual.”
Councilor Stanley Oliver, however, contends that the Town is sensitive to concerns about the trail.
“We beat ourselves up sometimes to make these types of decisions,” he says. “We try to take all the facts into consideration to make a decision.”
“When they talk about hauling wood…I’m one of the people who hauled wood on that trail. So I know what they mean.”
Councilor Oliver says that there is a lot of community support for the development, despite some of the concerns. Oliver also said that he and the Municipal Service Committee are willing to talk with those who are concerned over the fate of the trail.
“If the group wants to meet with the committee, we’re all ears.”