Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House, as there is an impending issue in regard to my question for the Minister of the Environment.
We have a new minister now, but this has been a recurring issue, at least for me, since 2004. For the people who reside around Terra Nova National Park, it has been an issue going back decades, even half a century.
I do want to follow-up on my question some time ago about Highway 301 and Highway 310. I will get to that shortly, but right now as we speak, there is an issue that is brewing in the park that we need to discuss. I hope the minister is available to provide some answers on that and to get some input.
I have always thought of the town of Charlottetown, which exists around Terra Nova National Park, as the town that is pinned in by the park and its rules and regulations. Now I am biased and think that the Terra Nova National Park has some of the greatest scenery in the world, but for many of the residents who live near this park, what some would consider a right or freedom has been quashed.
Time and time again the government has said “no we cannot”. It would seem that every time I write a letter or approach the ministry, I get stonewalled on this issue. It just does not want to get involved at all, which brings us to February 13.
On February 13, residents of the town of Charlottetown will stage a protest. Here is what they want, and I think they are right in demanding it.
Snowmobiling now is an incredibly large activity within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an economic generator, as well as a right for everybody to go among the trails. However, the people of Charlottetown cannot traverse the park at all to get to the main trailway that we have invested millions of dollars in grooming and in upkeep for the residents and tourists. They are not asking for free-for-all snowmobiling throughout the whole park; they are asking for an access route to the main trailway. It is an access route to get the people of this town among the general population out for snowmobiling. This is not a lot to ask. It is a trail that they know themselves; they have mapped it out.
This coming weekend they are going to make a strong statement to say that they feel they are not being listened to, and they are not. They should be given attention and should be given a fair hearing.
Also, residents within this area, not just of Charlottetown but also of the Eastport Peninsula and the town of Terra Nova, would like to have some pavement, but I will get to that a little later.
On the snowmobiling issue, there are other privileges, rights really, that other people throughout the province enjoy that they cannot enjoy because of where they are.
Let us keep in mind who came along first. Was it the park? No, the people and their ancestors did. Their ancestors, dating back many generations, have invested in this area. It was where they brought up their children and now where their great-great-great-grandchildren are growing up.
The park came in and imposed restrictions that I believe are unfair. Again, they are not asking to snowmobile throughout the park as some sort of free-for-all recreational activity. Rather, these people are asking for an access route.
Would the minister please rise and help us address this important issue for the people of Charlottetown?