Thursday, December 30, 2004

Better buy a muffler for that thing...

MONTREAL -- The provincial government and the mayors of 18 municipalities plan to appeal a Quebec Superior Court ruling in favour of a group of Laurentian-area residents who said they were victims of excessive noise caused by snowmobiles.

Justice Minister Jacques Dupuis said in a statement Wednesday the appeal will contest the multimillion-dollar damages granted because the snowmobilers participate in their sport in good faith. He said the court did not properly consider the proximity of the residences to trails - some as close as 10 metres - and the fact that some homeowners were well aware of the situation when they bought their property.

The mayors voted in favour of appealing the decision because they say the economic impact of the judgment is too important to ignore.

Quebec has a network of trails extending 33,700 km and the sport brings in an estimated $1.5 billion to the tourism industry. There are 231 snowmobile clubs.

Quebec has already tabled legislation banning lawsuits against snowmobile operators for the next two years. The law would prohibit legal action based on disturbance, noise and odour complaints linked to the use of off-road vehicles including snowmobiles.

The legislation would give snowmobile operators time to find other trails that aren't close to homes.

The recent judgment said the local residents who live within 100 metres of the offending trail north of Montreal will be entitled to $2,400 a year, retroactive to 1997.

The provincial government and the local municipal authority will have to share the costs, the judge ruled.

Everyone wants a piece of the pie. It is taxpayer money which is used to pay for such absurd rulings and to compensate whiners who should have known better than to buy a home near snowmobile trails - maybe the affected taxpayers should sue the government right back - afterall, most of the money used to meet the conditions of the lawsuit is not taken from snowmobilers - that is, there is no direct correlation between the accused and the people who pay compensation. Better yet, why not just ban snowmobiles because common courtesy and peaceable resolution of such disputes is out of the question I suppose?