A group of ATV riders has banded together to restore and redevelop Newfoundland’s trails.
Volunteers around Newfoundland are working to renovate the ATV trails around the island, all without government funding.
The group, which calls itself CBN T’railway, started in March 2020 and is dedicated to the clearing and repairing of the ATV trails on the Avalon that follow the old railway bed.
Adam Hindy, a long-time outdoorsman, started the group with his family to take on the T’railway’s problems he felt were not being addressed – overgrown bushes, fallen trees, uneven land and flooding made it nearly impossible to use many of the trails.
“It was good for me because I had some extra free time,” said Hindy. “I was off work because of the (pandemic) shutdowns so I utilized my time to dive into these projects. It was a good way to social distance because, like, you’re in the woods.”
In just two short years, the group has taken on over a dozen projects and opened up an extra 150 kilometres of the T’railway. These projects are entirely community-led, garnering volunteers from around Newfoundland to chip in labour, time and donations.
Most of the expenses for the big-picture projects are covered by raffles held throughout the year, selling tickets for pieces of equipment donated by various sponsors. The group also sells merchandise such as T-shirts, hats, hoodies, and stickers to cover costs such as rental equipment and chainsaws.
It wasn’t always like this, Hindy said.
The group faced some skepticism in its early days. Onlookers questioned if they would be able to make a substantial difference or if there was enough interest to get people on board.
Attitudes, said Hindy, are changing and support is growing.
The group proved itself by taking on projects despite criticism, said Hindy. Even when the Spaniard’s Bay municipality declined to provide them with support, they decided to take on the challenge head-first and renovate the trails anyway – proving their dedication to the cause and amassing more supporters.
Now, two years after its creation, the group has grown from a couple of hundred to over 6,000 members. People from all across Canada, and even some from the United States, have taken an interest in the improvement of Newfoundland’s trails.
CBN T’railway has also inspired volunteer groups to pop up in other parts of the province such as Harbour Grace and Bay de Verde.
“We’ve had very positive support from the town and from the people,” said Sonia Williams, a founding member of the Harbour Grace T’railway group.
Williams said they were given the go-ahead to put up stop signs along the trails around Harbour Grace, and even the town sent its workers to help grade the trails. The group of 14 people has cleared out more than seven kilometres of trails.
Their next big project will be a collaborative effort between CBN T’railway and the Harbour Grace group for the rebuilding of a trestle bridge that connects the trail between Conception Bay North and Harbour Grace.
“You’ve got to feel proud about it,” said Williams. “Everybody on the committee has worked hard, and we’re not going to stop here.”