Victoria Beach Council Meeting tackles contentious issues

Matt Metcalfe sharing his views on trail use in the municipality

January 11, 2019

By M. Hadad

Not exactly Happy Trails at the evening meeting held in Victoria Beach, January 8.

With a short agenda, there was ample time to discuss a most contentious issue which was brought to the RM Councillors for some kind of action and resolution.

In an ongoing debate, this time it was Matt Metcalfe, a long-time cottage owner and an avid winter sports enthusiast and now activist, who requested to present his views on trails usage in VB. The issue has become a complicated problem focussing on the various users of the municipal trails and golf course space for winter active living sports, in particular cross-country skiing vs skate skiing, with some snowmobile concerns added in.

Council has taken one step forward by appointing Steve Axworthy, as the Councillor solely responsible for all aspects of the trails. However, input and rebuttal from Reeve McMorris to the presentation brought out many other disturbing concerns. Accusations of vandalism, proprietary misunderstandings, trespassing on municipal property, coupled with opposing views on the impact of grooming, particularly with a snowmobile on the golf course property, were met with questions of who, how often, and what type of activities should be given preference, if any. To support his assertions of the need to go back to the way it has been for decades, Matt read excerpts found on Facebook, which were met with the Reeve and several Councillors discrediting anything using this as a valid source. Councillor Axworthy addressed the matter of trails by indicating he has called a meeting of all trail associations to meet this week in Winnipeg. His hope for this new Trail Alliance is to hear all sides and hopefully restore harmony in this area.

In the meantime, a map has been established showing the current known trails in order to produce a guide for both summer and winter use. Information will include the type of activity permitted once details are completed. Frustration over anything trails related, had an impact on a subsequent order of business, however. Dan Lester, Executive Director of the Red River North Trails Association, requested a letter of support to apply for additional funding to equip the portion of The Great Trail (the TransCanada Trail) spur trail recently developed with 6 squeeze gates for safety and traffic control plus some improvements between David Road and Wanasing. After several attempts to come to a consensus, the matter was tabled to seek further clarification, delaying application for grant funding. Councillor Axworthy voiced a strong message that process must be adhered to going forward. The contribution made to date by Mr. Lester on behalf of The Great Trail extention was acknowledged.

The remainder of the meeting dealt with administrative matters. A new part-time administrative position has been created located at Victoria Beach, and the position has been filled. Work on the Welcome sign for the entrance to the community is proceeding. Several options will be put on the RM website for input. The next Council meeting will be held in Winnipeg, January 22 at 6:30 pm.

All RMVB meetings can be viewed on the municipality’s web site. Live, for Council meetings in Winnipeg – and next day for meetings held at the lake.