MP Simms in illegal snowmobile protest
A federal Liberal Member of Parliament says he doesn’t regret taking part in an illegal snowmobile protest on Sunday in central Newfoundland’s Terra Nova National Park.
Liberal MP Scott Simms rode as a passenger to take a stand for the residents of Charlottetown.
They're not allowed to snowmobile from their town to the province's snowmobile trail system because their community is in a National Park that prohibits snowmobile use.
"I could go on CBC, I could go on any other TV network, I could go on the radio, and I could say to you that I'm angry but, push came to shove, and I wanted to make a statement," said Simms.
Simms says he doesn't know if he'll face charges but he said the minister responsible for National Parks, Peter Kent, told him that he would meet with the residents of Charlottetown.
Sunday, Parks Canada said it will not make an exception for snowmobilers who want to use their machines in a limited corridor out of Terra Nova National Park.
Protesting snowmobilers openly defied a ban on snowmobiles in the park Sunday when more than 50 machines drove west on an illegal trail from Charlottetown into the park and then returned home.
The protesters argue they should be allowed to establish a corridor to drive snowmobiles through it. Park officials said snowmobiling is prohibited in the park for sound reasons.
"Parks are created for people to use, but in such a way that they are unimpaired for future generations and snowmobiling does cause damage to the park. It impacts the visitor experience and it does cause public safety concerns as well for us," said park superintendent Bill Brake, Sunday.
Park Wardens monitored the protest, but didn't intervene.
Brake said no one was stopped Sunday because wardens were busy making sure everyone was safe.
However, he said park officials are going to takes steps to try to prevent people from using snowmobiles in the park.
Some people who live in Charlottetown said park regulations restrict them from traditional outdoor pursuits, such ice fishing and berry picking.