A pitch to allow all-terrain vehicles on the streets of Clinton is gaining momentum.
The Clinton Outdoor Sportsmen Association appeared as a delegation to council last week, highlighting the economic benefits that could come by allowing ATVs to use municipal streets. The move would allow ATVers to get from the Gold Rush Snowmobile trailhead on Station Road into town for food, gas and lodgings – and perhaps spend more time in Clinton, said Rolly Higginbottom, of the sportsmen association.
The proposal was initiated earlier this year after the section from 70 Mile to Clinton was completed on the 463-kilometre trail. The group is focusing on ATVs rather than snowmobiles because Clinton doesn’t get as much snow as other areas, Higginbottom said. At the moment, there is a rec site at the trailhead but only a picnic table, fire ring and washroom.
At the moment, unlicensed, off-road vehicles cannot be operated on any municipal streets in Clinton.
“I think eventually it will catch on,” Higginbottom said, adding this is an opportunity to keep people in the community rather than them just packing up at the trail end and driving south. “People like ATVs. They can jump on in 100 Mile, come all the way to Clinton, stay overnight and have a few beers. Anything we can do for our little town, bring in a few dollars, we should do it.”
Mayor Susan Swan said a decision will likely be made at the next council meeting, Dec. 22. Council wants to do some more research, including speaking with the local RCMP and checking in with residents along the municipal streets – Engelmann Lane, Dewdney Avenue and Carson Street and Cariboo Crescent – that would be affected if the proposal goes ahead, she said.
Those streets were suggested as ATV routes as they lead straight to the Nomad Motel, Cariboo Lodge and the Round-Up Motel. ATVers would not be allowed to cross Highway 97 unless they have an operations permit from the RCMP, as well as additional insurance from ICBC.
“We have a little bit of homework to do,” Swan said, adding she personally supports the idea. “We’re thinking it would be a good economic opportunity. We haven’t had this opportunity in the past because the trail didn’t come as far as Clinton. Why wouldn’t we tap into it?”
Originating in the 1850s, the Gold Rush Trail is the route along which many people travelled in the hopes of striking gold. Today, it is a popular route for those who like to ATV, hike, bike or dirt bike.
The delegation provided information that suggested the economic output similar policies have had in places like Sicamous, Tahsis and Valemount. In Sicamous last year, for instance, ATVers generated approximately $5.6 million in direct economic output and $9.1 million in total economic output, according to the documents. This translated into $3.4 million in direct GDP and $5.5 million total GDP as well as $1.7 million in direct revenue for all three levels of government and $2.3 million in total government revenue.