The telltale tracks are everywhere in Sylvan Lake — in parks, down alleys, along roadside ditches.
While it’s been illegal since last April in that community to ride snowmobiles, quads or similar offroad vehicles within town boundaries, it is clear many don’t agree with the rule.
When council repealed the bylaw that allowed snowmobile and quad owners to make short trips to the lake last January, it pledged to consider whether another set of rules could be crafted that would allow some offroad travel while addressing safety issues and other problems, such as illegal parking in front of downtown businesses and damage to parks.
Last week, council followed through on that promise and directed administration to bring back draft bylaws that would allow people to ride their snowmobiles, and possibly other offroad vehicles such as quads, in the town.
“There are lots of considerations that have to be looked at and addressed,” said Mayor Susan Samson. Among the issues council has already considered is the potential liability risk to the municipality if it gives the green light to snowmobiles sharing local roads with cars and trucks.
Questions over what speed limits should apply to offroad vehicles must also be answered.
Samson said the public will be given an opportunity to comment on the proposed bylaws before council takes the issue further.
The mayor has her misgivings about allowing snowmobiles back on local roads. Some residents already complain that it’s difficult to cross some of the busier roads because there aren’t enough crosswalks.
Adding another form of traffic into the mix in a community that is no longer the small town it once was may only create more problems.
“That’s my concern, is you’re trying to balance two different needs here. My responsibility as an elected official is to represent (what is) the best for the community.”
The original bylaw started out as a measure to allow snowmobilers to drive to popular ice fishing spots. Offroad vehicles were later added.
However, residents began raising concerns about the potentially dangerous mix of regular traffic and offroad vehicles in a community that has grown well past 11,000 and lobbied council to repeal the bylaw.