With regard to the motocross track rezoning controversy in the pages of the Pipestone Flyer, it is easy to see that this topic is of great concern for those involved. Fantastic claims of cows so frightened that the next generation will have to become vegans are offset by the rights of a landowner to recreate on and develop their own property.
The land in question is sketchy pasture at best but the hilly layout is perfect for a track. This is agricultural land only on paper. For some context, off-road riding is hugely popular with hundreds of young men and women in Wetaskiwin County that enjoy the challenge and adventure. Motocross is a sport that requires high levels of athleticism. V02 max levels of pro motocross racers exceed that of those in the Tour de France and pro hockey players…you could imagine the outcry if all of the “unpermitted” hockey rinks were forced to be removed because they weren’t zoned correctly.
The noise created is a factor that has been raised. However, current technology has motocross machines at 96 decibels which is comparable to a lawnmower, subway car or food processor. This does not discount the concerns of neighbors for the one day a week the track was being used but studies by Memphis State University, the U.S. E.P.A. and Manci et al. claim that, “noise has little impact on livestock” and suggest that, “the only cause of disturbance for animals will be impulsive noises such as blasting and pile driving”.
The real issue is that Wetaskiwin County has no area for this activity. I live on Coal Lake and there are days where bikes and quads tear by fishermen and upset myself and other landowners. The blame for this falls more on the county than the riders that have nowhere to go. The county’s recreation master plan surveyed the youth in our area and found that, “close to 70 per cent reported the county could do more to meet the resident’s needs”. Also, over 50 per cent said that there are activities not available in the community that they would like to do, and that recreational trails are a priority. Today’s youth are much less likely to want to play tennis, curl or participate in traditional stick and ball sports like their grandparents. The popularity of off-road riding and racing is increasing every year while curling rinks are down sized and tennis courts sit idle.
Only politicians would think that they have done anyone a favour by decreasing the supply of places to ride when there is an ever-increasing need from their citizens! There will continue to be “illegal” tracks, trespassing and different upset neighbors until the county fulfils its mandate to provide places for this activity.
Gregg Emmerling, RR1 Millet