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There are exceptions


Dear Editor: As I read today's Beacon I hear and I understand the comments and opinions made in regards to the issue of "No exceptions" on the T'Rail. These comments make us (Gander and area Snowmobile Club) out to be the bad guys. They make us sound like we don't have a heart and that we just don't care about the "what ifs." People are quick to comment and judge rather that realizing that there are other means of dealing with the "what ifs" and exceptions. To the gentlemen who commented about a person not having the ability to use the lower half of their body and that a snow machine gives them some means of mobility. We have given away a number of free passes as a non-profit organization in our area. We have provided free passes for fund raising to the Salvation Army Church, Charity Poker runs, Cobbs Pond - Central Health Fund Raiser, etc... We donated all the groomer time and fuel to operate the groomer to the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Winter Olympics in Gambo this year. We have done fundraisers for Corey Winters, who had a heart transplant. We did a fund-raiser last year for Jason Lingard, who lost his leg. The list goes on and on. We give back to the local area, and we have a heart.

Letters to the Editor - Dear Editor:

As I read today's Beacon I hear and I understand the comments and opinions made in regards to the issue of "No exceptions" on the T'Rail. These comments make us (Gander and area Snowmobile Club) out to be the bad guys. They make us sound like we don't have a heart and that we just don't care about the "what ifs." People are quick to comment and judge rather that realizing that there are other means of dealing with the "what ifs" and exceptions.

To the gentlemen who commented about a person not having the ability to use the lower half of their body and that a snow machine gives them some means of mobility. We have given away a number of free passes as a non-profit organization in our area. We have provided free passes for fund raising to the Salvation Army Church, Charity Poker runs, Cobbs Pond - Central Health Fund Raiser, etc... We donated all the groomer time and fuel to operate the groomer to the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Winter Olympics in Gambo this year. We have done fundraisers for Corey Winters, who had a heart transplant. We did a fund-raiser last year for Jason Lingard, who lost his leg. The list goes on and on. We give back to the local area, and we have a heart.

I think it is just wonderful that a disabled person has some form of recreation available to them. And if a disabled person asked us to assist them with a trail pass for the season, I can speak for our executive and tell you that we wouldn't have a problem providing one at no cost. Try asking a service station to give you the self serve price of gas if you can't get out and pump it yourself. My mother is disabled and she is not an exception when she can't use a self-serve gas pump.

So there are exceptions, just done in the proper manner.

In regards to the person who wrote about an emergency situation. I've been there. My father-in-law went into a diabetic coma and we had to rush him to the hospital. I had a sticker on my vehicle and if I hadn't I would have used my vehicle anyway. However, my husband broke the law when he was speeding on the Trans Canada Highway to get him to the hospital. He didn't even stop for the authorities. However, the authorities had understanding when they met him at the hospital emergency doors and he wasn't given a ticket. The law enforcement officer used common sense and fair judgment, as do the Natural Resource officers issuing fines. They have given out many warnings, instead of fines.

So there are exceptions, just done in the proper manner.

The residents of these two communities are quick to forget that there was no right of usage when the T'Rail was owned and operated by the CNR, and the trains were running. Prior to the removal of the railway in 1991, you couldn't use the trestle as a means to cross between the two towns.

What did the residents do then? They walked or they drove across using the bridge on the TCH. Ask many of the residents that grew up in these two towns and they will tell you "Mom wouldn't allow us to walk across the trestle." Pedestrians did not have the ability to cross the trestle when the trains were running, because the top of the train trestle was merely constructed of railway ties and rail, one slip and you were down through the top. It wasn't until the trestle was boarded over - paid for by the Government - after the removal of the rail that you could safely walk over the trestle.

ATVs did not become a popular alternate means of transportation until well into the late 1980s, early 1990s. Snowmobiles have been on the go for a long time and they did not use the trestle when the trains were still running, and if they did, there was great risk in doing so and a big hope that a train wasn't coming. So this is an assumed right that only came to surface once the railway was removed.

Residents of these two towns have just assumed that the T'Rail is their right to use at no cost. Does that mean we all have the right to assume what we want when it comes to Crown Land. Government took back this T'Rail from CNR and deemed it as a Provincial Liner Park after the removal of the railway. Since then, there has been the development of Trailways - also a non-profit organization - and the NLSF, followed by the regulation for a cost of using the park in the winter. This has all merged over time, and things are changing with the times. No different than the increase use of snowmobiles and the introduction of ATVs, and the fact that over a very short period of time they have become an alternative means of transportation and a major recreational past time.

We would be fools to think that government will pay for everything pertaining to the use of the T'Rail. When I visit friends at Jonathon Pond Provincial Park, I have to pay $2 just to enter the park, even if only visiting for five minutes. It's the rules and regulations of the park. No different than the T'Rail. Try telling the person at the gate of Jonathon's that there should be an exception or it's your right to use the park at no cost.

The trail pass monies and all the funds donated to our organization are used to operate the groomer and maintain the trails. We have not raised the cost of a trail pass in over four years. Fuel has more than doubled, along with groomer repairs and service. Insurance cost for groomers have increased by more than 300 per cent. We have spent money on brush cutting, grading of the trail, culvert replacement, wash out repairs and the list goes on. All money we get from trail pass sales and donations, it all goes back into the very trail the residents use. This is what pays to upkeep what we can on the trail and every bit of the co-ordination, administration and some of the work on the trail is all done off the backs of volunteers.

When do the volunteers, who give so much of their time in order for residents to have a decent trail to use, get the respect they so deserve from the users? The respect for the volunteers is provided by those that purchase a trail pass, no matter what part of the trail they are using. Given the cost of a snow machine, insurance and gas to operate the machine, $60 is a mere price to pay to have a groomed trail to ride on. Or do we just simply sit back and tell government to pay for all of this, and cross our fingers that they do or tell them it is our right, and they are responsible for paying for us to use the T'Rail.

When we were not grooming in Glenwood, we received that many complaints about the moguls (yes mams) and how many there were on that stretch of the trail. It was impossible to pass, and people were using other trails or roadways. We are so quick to forget what the trail was like before grooming, so thankless to those that give more than they should in order to keep the trails maintained, and so quick to assume that the use of the T'Rail is a given right.

Newfoundlanders are so privileged to have such a trail system throughout their province. When do we become thankful for what we have and shell out a few dollars to maintain the privilege, regardless if it goes through a town or not? And if there is a requirement for an exception to the rule, by all means call us, we are not the bad guys, just the administrators of a grand privilege a resident of this province has.

Gloria Knowlton

President

Gander and Area Snowmobile Club

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