Friday December 10, 2004
On Wednesday, December 1, a Quebec Court ruled in favor of homeowners living along a section of the Petit Train du Nord trail.
These homeowners filed a class-action suit claiming harmful noise pollution had occurred due to snowmobile use on a 40 km stretch of abandoned rail line that runs through Mont Tremblant Provincial Park.
The losers in this suit are the defendants (government of Quebec, the local municipal association – [MRC], the provincial association FCMQ, and FCMQ insurers). Reportedly the Judge assessed a $3 million finding against the MRC and $2 million against the government of Quebec for allowing the use of snowmobiles on the municipal land. There was no ruling against the FCMQ or their insurer.
Besides the damage assessed, the bad news from the ruling is that this FCMQ trail will be dead-ended to snowmobiling and the trail through the city will be closed. The trail passes through a public park in the city. The closure will dead-end the main trail that is part of the FCMQ system and the trail closure will impact on the community and other communities where the trail leads to. The economic impact of this closure could be severe.
The Judge stated that no snowmobile trail on municipal property should be located within 100 meters of any residential dwelling. Her ruling contradicts the present standard which states that snowmobile trails should be 30 meters from all homes. She stated in her ruling that the municipality made an error in allowing the trail to go through the city at closer than 100 meters from the homeowners.
The ramifications of this ruling for the FCMQ trail system are substantial since many municipalities allow snowmobile trails to pass through their towns closer than 100 meters from homes.
The FCMQ office is busy reviewing the ruling at this time. The FCMQ cannot file an appeal against the ruling since they were not mentioned in the judge’s ruling and therefore they have no standing in the case. Any appeal to the judge’s ruling must be filed by the Minister of Transport within the Government of Quebec or by the MRC, which represents the municipal government.