Minister: One Year Licence Issued For ATV Tours

March 16, 2018 | 56 Comments

[Updated] “I am granting approval for a ‘Licence to Use Vehicles on Government of Bermuda Property’ for a trial period of one year,” Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch said, adding that “the conditions of the licence are such that it will allow for termination of the licence if terms and conditions of operation are not adhered to.”

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [March 16], Minister Burch said, “I rise this morning to report further on the proposed ATV Tours for the West end of the island. Before doing so, however, there is some merit in recapping how we got to this place.

“This proposal predates this administration and in fact had received the approval of the then responsible Minister in the former Government.

“After assuming office an approach was made to the Ministry to present the proposal for our consideration – we set about following our own course of due diligence to assure ourselves that we considered all the facts in this proposal.

Minister Burch said “after consultation with the Attorney Generals Chambers and the Department of Parks we recognized that Section 4 of the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986, required the Ministry of Public Works to provide an opportunity for the general public to comment on the proposal.

“That consultation occurred from the 1st to the 14th of November 2017 resulting in 628 valid responses – 2 in favour and 626 against. The two largest objections were Danger / Traffic Congestion / Safety [54%] and Environmental impact / Pollution [51%].

“To be clear, in spite of my frank and publicly expressed views on the nature of some of the objections, as I indicated then I did consider each and every submission was considered in coming to a decision. Public consultation is a valuable part of our democracy and it is good to see Bermudians making their views known on a wide range of issues.

“This Government’s view is that the Railway Trails can and should be for the use and enjoyment of the widest cross section of visitors and locals alike – and no one group should have exclusive rights to its use – it must be shared.

“The plan to have guided educational tours – we believe will find favour with that constituency as well.

“As such, I am granting approval for a ‘Licence to Use Vehicles on Government of Bermuda Property’ for a trial period of one year. The conditions of the licence are such that it will allow for termination of the licence if terms and conditions of operation are not adhered to.

“Additionally, we will enter into a lease agreement with the operators for the rental of the former bus terminal at Beacon Hill. We believe that this initiative will find particular favour with our cruise visitors interested in cultural tourism.

“If at any time they are found to be acting in contravention of the agreement – it can be suspended or canceled in accordance with the Act.”

Update 6.28pm: The BNT Executive Director Bill Zuill said, “The Bermuda National Trust is deeply dismayed and disheartened by the decision to grant a one-year license for ATV tours on the Railway Trail in Sandys.

“We are particularly concerned that the Minister of Parks feels able to ignore the fact that 99.7 percent of those who responded to the public consultation objected to the proposal. Many will perceive this as making a mockery of the public consultation process and this will reduce confidence in public consultation in general.

“This morning we reached out to other concerned groups who objected to the plan and we are to hold an emergency meeting to review the options open to us.

“Notwithstanding the need for innovative experiences for our visitors, the safety and enjoyment of our National Parks is paramount. They are the preserves of all of us; our children, seniors, athletes, artists, differently abled, farmers, birdwatchers, walkers, horse riders, fisherman, visitors and more. Open spaces like the Railway Trail are essential to the public’s overall health and the wellbeing of our community. This tour threatens to disrupt the peace and tranquility people seek in parks and open spaces.

“We do not believe that this one tour with its limited reach, nuisance and the dangerous precedent it sets, can in way demonstrate that it is in the public interest to justify overriding a number of different pieces of legislation.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to report further on the proposed ATV Tours for the West end of the island. Before doing so, however, there is some merit in recapping how we got to this place.

Mr. Speaker, not surprisingly, the proposal generated considerable interest in the community amongst both environmental organisations and individuals expressing their views.

This proposal predates this administration and in fact had received the approval of the then responsible Minister in the former Government.

After assuming office an approach was made to the Ministry to present the proposal for our consideration – we set about following our own course of due diligence to assure ourselves that we considered all the facts in this proposal and would not be influenced by a biased media campaign designed to discourage support.

Mr. Speaker, after consultation with the Attorney Generals Chambers and the Department of Parks we recognized that Section 4 of the Bermuda National Parks Act 1986, required the Ministry of Public Works to provide an opportunity for the general public to comment on the proposal.

That consultation occurred from the 1st to the 14th of November 2017 resulting in 628 valid responses – 2 in favour and 626 against. The two largest objections were Danger / Traffic Congestion / Safety [54%] and Environmental impact / Pollution [51%].

Many of the objections were lodged without the full knowledge of all the specifics of the operation – such as:

  • The proposal is for guided cultural tours by qualified tour guides.
  • Permission to import a maximum of 10 vehicles has been granted but the current plan is for tours of 8 – 6 customers and 2 tour guides.
  • The vehicles are not the ones seen on television and repeatedly highlighted in the Daily as the ones proposed for this venture.
  • The vehicles will not traverse any virgin land – but utilize the paved Railway Trail and service roads.
  • The operating hours of 10 am to 4pm – Monday to Friday – are more than reasonable and will not impinge on many of the other users of the Trail.

Mr. Speaker, to be clear, in spite of my frank and publicly expressed views on the nature of some of the objections, as I indicated then I did consider each and every submission was considered in coming to a decision.

Public consultation is a valuable part of our democracy and it is good to see Bermudians making their views known on a wide range of issues.

Mr. Speaker, on the 8th of February 2018, the Minister of Transport & Regulatory Affairs and I visited the Beacon Hill Depot for a pre-arranged visit and inspection of the vehicles in question.

We were also afforded an opportunity to ride them to gauge their functionality and speed. Needless to say Mr. Speaker, the operation did not remotely resemble what has been portrayed in the local media.

During that visit the proprietors provided us with all the necessary documentation and approvals from the various Government and private agencies, the Department of Parks, the Transport Control Department [inclusive of insurance coverage for that very day] as well as confirmation of First Aid certification.

Mr. Speaker, this Government’s view is that the Railway Trails can and should be for the use and enjoyment of the widest cross section of visitors and locals alike – and no one group should have exclusive rights to its use – it must be shared.

The plan to have guided educational tours – we believe will find favour with that constituency as well.

As such, Mr. Speaker, I am granting approval for a “Licence to Use Vehicles on Government of Bermuda Property” for a trial period of one year. The conditions of the licence are such that it will allow for termination of the licence if terms and conditions of operation are not adhered to.

Additionally, we will enter into a lease agreement with the operators for the rental of the former bus terminal at Beacon Hill. We believe that this initiative will find particular favour with our cruise visitors interested in cultural tourism.

Mr. Speaker, if at any time they are found to be acting in contravention of the agreement – it can be suspended or canceled in accordance with the Act.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot end this statement without commenting on the vision, steadfastness, detailed research and patience displayed by the Hollis family in this enterprise.

Both the Minister of Transport and I were impressed with their depth of knowledge, desire to offer something different in the Bermuda experience and their commitment and love of this country.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that given this opportunity and an approach of sharing – we all can continue to enjoy the Railway Trails.

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Comments (56)

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  1. wahoo says:

    What a joke. Don’t bring them down East end.

    • Real talk says:

      You said the same thing about Jet skies wahoo Tuna head. Everyone loves to jet ski summertime.

      Give the tourist & locals what they desire.

      Casinos/Night Club
      Strip Clubs
      private Nude beach

      Open up a area and allow fast food restaurants to return.
      Burger King
      Dunkin’ Donuts
      Starbucks
      Taco Bell
      Cinnabon

      Bring more name brand stores in Bermuda.
      J. Crew.
      fave Saks
      Fifth Avenue
      Zappos.
      Reebok.
      Neiman Marcus
      Under Armour
      Aldo

      All the islands in the Caribbean already have these stores and more.

      • wahoo says:

        I don’t recall saying that about jet skis but I do not like them (more to the point some of the idiots that ride them). They are noisy, fast and the riders have no boat sense whatsoever.

        Giving some locals and tourists what they desire at the expense of the environment and the peace and quiet that other locals and tourists already enjoy does not sound fair to me. Overwhelming majority of responses to this were “no” so I guess fairness is out the window anyway.

        Private nude beach what would the pleeple say about that? Fast food? Go ahead I do not eat that stuff but if you think tourists want to come to a place that resembles a U.S. city then let’s do it.

        Well you sound like a fan of the Caribbean so please look into some real estate there.

        • Real Deal says:

          i dont know about all of that Real talk many of those business wont bring money into the island they will only take it away and circulate it.

          Plus we need to get Obesity under control before all that fast food comes here. that fast food is killing those American over there. i was over there eating that crap and watch move body change right in front of my eye. my feet could not fit in my boots my face got bloated. food was cheapest but you pay dearly in another way

      • Mixitup says:

        You can’t be serious. I’d rather go back to gardening and fishing.

        • Zevon says:

          Well good, because this lot are already driving the economy into the ditch. Give it a year or two and it will be Paula Cox all over agsin, promising recovery is “just around the corner” every frekin year.

      • Kevin says:

        I have interviewed over 100 people in the marine industry and recreationists. There was a massive agreement that they nearly all hated jet skis.

      • aceboy says:

        Jet skis and jet skiers are the bane of the boating world. I stay well away from them if at all possible.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        You obviously have never had direct contact with visitors other than maybe a brief taxi ride.

        What makes the Island attractive is what it does NOT have, namely everything that can be found on every other island & can be found at home in the US. They also love the perceived Britishness of Bermuda.

    • Real Deal says:

      What are you talking about we need something down east end. I am sick of everything going west. People are all ways sending all the tourist up west. thats why St Goe is always dead

  2. Rocky5 says:

    Amen! Thank you Col. Burch!

  3. facts of the rock says:

    Friends n Family AGAIN!
    plp trying to get money anyway they can.

  4. Hmmm says:

    Can you image if the OBA did this? What a joke…Don’t care what you think, we will do what we want.

    • Tania Stafford says:

      Actually, as the article and all other articles have stated, the OBA was the administration that gave the initial permissions for this venture.

      • Mark says:

        Actually, read again fox news. Thats not what they did. Nice try though. Pls go back to the US and leave us alone. Take your plp friends with you.

        • What?? says:

          You sad sad person. That is exactly what they did. Slyvan Richards okayed this when he was Minister.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        No, the OBA, more to the point, a Minister took it under consideration. No permission was granted. You can be sure they would have listened to the huge objection to these things & there would not even be a trial period.

        • What?? says:

          Complete BS. Sylvan Richards granted permission for this to proceed.

      • nerama says:

        There was no final decision on the ATVs until this week.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        No, the OBA did not give permission. In their dumbness they took it under consideration. It should have been rejected right there.

  5. Mark says:

    What a joke. Not surprised though. This govt just cant get it right. And since we cant comment on the lahey case, let me say, why dont they bring the case her where the damage was done? Of course they wont. Protecting their friends at expense of the average bermudian.

  6. Upset voter says:

    So what about the 600 plus people that voted against it?! Only 2 people were for it!!

    Does the Government NOT Represent the People?! In this case Absolutely Not!

  7. enough says:

    2 for and 626 against, that really is listening to the people. I guess the PLP
    is going to be just like the OBA in that regard. we’ll see how long it takes before there is an accident with one of these and a pedestrian, what will they do then because it is going to happen.

  8. SayItAintSo says:

    Looks like the people West of Whitehill don’t count either.

  9. shrew says:

    something STINKS about this entire project. and yet, where are the marchers? shouldn’t everyone in Somerset be marching by now?

    • Hmmm says:

      sure if you wanna get pepper sprayed lol

      • Hey says:

        That was a result of breaking the law. Other marches were peaceful, so where are the People’s campaign now?

        Did your vote get suckered out of you by them.

    • Hey says:

      Where is the People’s campaign? Gone strangely silent.

  10. Same Old PLP says:

    ATV tours on protected land for friends and family despite 626 objections against it. Same old PLP. Imagine what this island will look like in five more years of this type of destructive, self serving mind set

  11. nerema says:

    626-2. And they do this a week after postponing elections.

    How is this democracy?

    • D Wade says:

      Amazing how 24-12 carries more weight than 626-2.

      Burt math I suppose!

  12. Swing Vote no more says:

    Good for you Minister Burch. I’m tired of the muppets in the UBP/oba. You made a decision. Fools in the UBP/oba were always afraid to make decisions. Always afraid of the Rent a Crowd. :)

    My entire family voted for them in 2012.
    That’s why they got kicked out after 4 + years. Never again

  13. Truth is killin’ me... says:

    People East of White Hill should stop paying taxes! You don’t bother chasing land tax defaulters and payroll/health insurance dodgers anyway.

  14. Warlord2 says:

    I mean look at his picture .It says it all

  15. campervan says:

    The dumbing down of Bermuda. The thin end of the wedge. A precious resource being ground down for lazy people who can’t be assed to walk. Just put some cheese whizz on top of the rock and call it a day.

  16. Protest says:

    I would advise all to come out in support and view the schedule for these tours and block the railway trail. I will be.

  17. Reuben says:

    Well this might be for naught as their planned route is over property that is owned by a Trust and no one has apparently asked the trust about it

  18. Oh really says:

    Swing vote no more. The OBA made plenty decions and everyone they made you PLP supporters marched or put up picket lines. Remember you all got pepper sprayed which you deserved. Keep on following the brothers & sisters you may all end up with an island that is worth nothing. See how far you get then. No funds to pay or do anything for your people.

  19. Dready says:

    Ignorance is bliss!

  20. Joe Bloggs says:

    “That consultation occurred from the 1st to the 14th of November 2017 resulting in 628 valid responses – 2 in favour and 626 against.”

    Note the use of the word “valid” and remember if you live east of White Hill your opinion does’t count. How many objections were there really? 50,000?

  21. aceboy says:

    Who owns the ATVs?

  22. PANGAEA says:

    Have you all gone mad ?

  23. Scaried to leave name, says:

    Yep, these days I would be afraid to leave my name, but still have an opinion. After so much noise prior to election about proper consultation, cant believe this is going ahead. Well at least there is now 3 people for it though, all I can say is those 3 people most be very powerful. Then again who smuggled in people in the dead of night? Say no more.

  24. Rocky5 says:

    OBA were going to do same thing so it’s clear both Parties saw economic value.

  25. Too funny says:

    Bermudians make me holler! So afraid of change and always against other Bermudians trying to do the right thing in their own Country! Those of you who oppose this and other local entrepreneurs are the problem in Bermuda! You just can’t stand to see someone get ahead and do something good for Bermuda!

    Shame on you! This is why Bermuda cannot hope to compete with other destinations and so don’t cry crocodile tears when Bermuda dives deeper into the ground!

    • aceboy says:

      How is allowing a few ATVs to monopolize a public trail a good thing for Bermuda? It is a good thing for whomever owns the ATVs. Who might that be? I keep asking, nobody seems to know. Do you?

  26. Dale Lewis says:

    Met some visitors out at Cooper’s Island on Saturday. They were so enchanted with the peacefulness of it, wanted to visit more parks where they could get away from traffic etc.

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