Unopened road allowance abutting Sheg First Nation denied use by Snowdusters

SHEGUIANDAH FIRST NATION—Trail woes continue to plague the Manitoulin Snowdusters Snowmobile Club.

Snowdusters representatives met with Sheguiandah First Nation chief and council last Monday night to discuss potentially using a portion of road allowance that runs along the boundary of the First Nation from Indian Mountain Road westerly to the southwestern corner of the community.

After a vote on using the land, council rejected the idea, citing concerns over right of way and any garbage that could be left behind from snowmobilers.

The Snowdusters were left scrambling to find an alternate route from Sheguiandah to points east and west late last year when three landowners pulled their land use agreements (in Honora Bay, Indian Mountain and Sheguiandah) with the club, putting the Sheguiandah trail in limbo. The Snowdusters met with Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson and Manager of Public Works Gary May to explore potential municipal road allowance options, one of them hinging on Sheguiandah First Nation’s approval, which they did not receive. In keeping with the spirit of the still unacted provisions of the Manitoulin 1990 Land Agreement, the Northeast Town council made agreement of the Sheguiandah First Nation a condition for the use of the unopened road allowance abutting the reserve. The enabling regulations of the Manitoulin 1990 Land Agreement apparently stipulate that unopened road allowances adjacent to First Nation lands will revert to the control of the chief and council. It is also common practice for the municipality to consult adjacent landowners when considering such requests.

When contacted by The Expositor, Chief Andrew Aguonie said he would be looking into his council’s right of way concerns, noting that he would keep an open dialogue with the Snowdusters moving forward.

“I have to respect my council’s decision,” the chief added.

The Honora Bay route has changed this year too. Snowmobilers now follow the 20th Sideroad down to Townline Road and follow the groomer ditch along Townline to Bidwell Road, down Rockville Road and then on to the usual trail to M’Chigeeng or Mindemoya.

There is no plan B for the Sheguiandah trail, Mr. Middleton noted, but the Snowdusters and snowmobile enthusiasts are working together to come up with a new route for next winter.