Don Faye remembers watching with incredulity as two cars lined up on the wharf with engines revving.
They sped off in an apparent impromptu drag race, tires spinning and charging towards the narrow gated exit at the Shelburne Marine Terminal.
It was with only inches to spare that one car pulled out far enough ahead so both could fit through and Faye could breathe again.
That is one incident among hundreds that Faye says is creating a dangerous situation on the town-owned wharf.
Last week, after days of drivers completely ignoring the posted 20 km/hr speed limit, the manager made the decision to shut the gates, barring motorized access to the wharf for the public.
He says the gates will remain closed during the day until drivers get the message.
“It’s getting ridiculous,” said the port manager. “Enough is enough …and closing the gates is my only option.”
Town CAO Dylan Heide told councillors at the last week’s meeting that speeding and safety concerns at the Shelburne Marine Terminal were “out of control.”
“People believe they have every right to drive 100 kilometres an hour up and down that wharf for no reason,” he said. “It boggles my mind that people don’t believe that that speed limit isn’t as lawful as any other speed limit.”
The CAO wholeheartedly agrees that closing the wharf to drivers is the only answer unless the message gets through.
“Right now it is just unsafe for the public to be there when people drive down at that speed,” he said. “It may need to be just a walk on wharf if we can’t get the speed down.”
The CAO said the Shelburne Marine Terminal is one of the few in Canada that is normally open to the public.
Mayor Karen Matattall noted that it’s a big deal for people to be able to drive down to the wharf and said that people who are abusing that privilege need to understand they are creating a dangerous situation.
In one day, more than 43 people stopped at the gate to question why the wharf was closed to traffic.
“There were a lot of people who were put out,” said Mayor Matattall.