BY KIRK STARRATTT
Kings County Advertiser/Register
It looks like Thunder in the Valley isn’t going anywhere.
The 32nd annual 4x4 rally will once again be held at the Jones Road pit in New Minas.
Kings County council reviewed a letter from New Minas Fire Chief James Redmond at its September 7 session requesting an exemption to the New Minas Noise Bylaw from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10.
The rally raises about $8,000 for the fire department each year, and also provides extensive opportunities for first responder and extrication training for firefighters. The event is also a major fundraiser for the Coldbrook Lions Club, the Valley Bulldogs football club and the Kings County 4X4 Club, which also donates some revenue to charity. Redmond said there is an estimated $200,000 economic spin-off in the local business community.
Area Councillor Eric Smith said he has lived in the village for 31 years and the event has been held as long as he can recall. He said the rally is accepted by the majority of village residents, with some complaints from three or four families.
“I hope council will approve the request,” he said, making it a formal motion.
Councillor Janet Newton asked if there was any correspondence from the Village of New Minas with its approval. She feels it should be the village commission requesting the exemption, and pointed out the pit falls within the village’s well field. Warden Fred Whalen said he’d follow up with a letter, and he hoped the correspondence from the village iwould be “more friendly this time.” Whalen pointed out the village doesn’t have the authority to approve an exemption on its own.
Councillor Chris Parker asked who owns the pit. Smith said he knows, but had promised the individual he wouldn’t disclose a name publicly.
Parker said he would be voting against the request. He said there was a council motion last December to strike a committee to look for a new location for the rally, but that never happened. Council has been informed for four years this is the last year for holding the rally in the pit.
“A lot of people have complaints, but they feel they have been threatened so they don’t speak out,” he said.
Councillor Dick Killam asked if the county could be liable in any way if there were an accident or death as a result of the rally. Municipal solicitor Geoff Muttart said the fire department is simply requesting a noise bylaw exemption, and the county wouldn’t be liable in any way.
Councillor Basil Hall called for a friendly amendment to the motion stating the county would grant the exemption, contingent on the Village of New Minas giving its approval. Councillor Wayne Atwater said council should grant the exemption this year and “put Parker’s issue” on the next committee of the whole agenda.
“Surely, we’ll have it resolved for next year,” he said. “Don’t worry about what the village is going to do.”
However, Parker wasn’t willing to discuss the matter any further.
“I’ve discussed this for four years and I’m not discussing it any more,” he said. Parker told Atwater not to put the onus on him because it’s a council issue.
“There’s no will around here to do it,” Parker said about the issue of finding a new venue for the rally.
Who owns the pit?
Apparently, there is a buyer for the Jones Road pit in New Minas where the annual “Thunder in the Valley” 4X4 rally fundraiser is held.
The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says the deal isn’t finalized and, until it is, it can’t divulge who made the offer accepted by the province, or how much money is involved.
New Minas area manager Fred Whynot says the Jones Road pit was listed for sale by the department as surplus property. The money from the sale would go into provincial coffers. Although it was listed for $50,000 and an offer has been made and accepted, Whynot could not say definitively how much money is involved or who is purchasing the property. The deal isn’t finalized and there are privacy concerns.
“We have potential interest,” he says.
There was a rumor the New Minas Fire Department and the Kings County 4X4 Club were interested in buying the property. Fire Chief James Redmond and 4X4 club president Steve Gillis both confirm, together, they had put in an offer, but it wasn’t accepted. Gillis says there were a number of offers made on the property. They have received confirmation from the probable new owner they have permission to hold the rally in the pit.
Redmond says the intention behind the joint offer was to buy the pit and use it for fundraising and training activities.