Council approves ATV access in principle, details to come

By Kirk Winter

Kawartha Lakes council got one step further to allowing ATVs access to a number of designated rural roads in the south of the city, and  routes through Lindsay and Bobcaygeon — creating a united trail system for recreational vehicles running from the Ganaraska Forest all the way to Haliburton.

Despite significant public push-back from members of the general public who questioned everything from the decision making process of the task force led by Councillor Pat Dunn to the costs of enforcement, the city has decided to spend the next month fine tuning some of the parts of the new ATV by-law with a goal to implement the new rules on September 1, just in time for the fall recreational vehicle season.

Except for deputy-mayor Patrick O’Reilly, who opposed any expansion of ATV access in the city because “these changes were being pushed too soon and with not enough research,” the remainder of council agreed to the following after much contentious back and forth on May 4:

  • This will be a two-year pilot program with a review and potential cancellation possible after one year.
  • Only ATVs will be allowed on the newly opened roads and pathways in the south of the city. Owners of the very popular side-by-side machines will still have to trailer their machines to Bobcaygeon to pick up the existing trail to Haliburton there.
  • ATVs will only be allowed on designated roads and pathways in the south of the city from 7 am to 9:30 pm. Night riding, when accident rates escalate, will not be allowed.
  • ATVs will only have access to these newly determined roads from May 1 to Dec.1.
  • The city will determine which rural roads are safe and unsafe for ATV travel, and bylaw, KLPS and the OPP will ticket those who use other roads.
  • Drivers will have to have at least a valid G2/M2 license, valid license plates and valid insurance.
  • Membership in the Kawartha All-Terrain Vehicle Association (KATVA) will not be compulsory to access these newly opened roads.
  • There will be increased communication and education to all involved about ATV rules, regulations and safety.

Mayor Andy Letham, while publicly supporting the opening up of the southern sections of the city to ATVs, asked council for one more month to determine three very important issues, and council supported another discussion on June 1 to finalize the following crucial elements of the new plan:

  • Which rural roads will be open to ATV riders?
  • What path or pathways will be found through Lindsay and can a pathway be found around Lindsay rather than through it?
  • What pathway will allow ATVs to access the amenities of Bobcaygeon?

Dunn and Councillor Ron Ashmore, while supporting additional study, were concerned with council’s reluctance to make a decision.

“It could be 2031 before we make a decision,” Dunn said. “We can put this off for another month and kick the can further on down the road. We will come back with the same routes for Lindsay.”

“We could wait forever,” Ashmore suggested. “We have listened to all of the people. We need to do something and now is the time.”

Task force member councillor Kathleen Seymour-Fagan was concerned at suggestions that the task force had somehow been unfair, “We have done our due diligence on these issues. Folks need to work together to solve these problems. We have listened to everyone. We have looked at every possible way through Lindsay without pushing everyone onto one route.”

Councillor Tracy Richardson, who also served on the task force, said, “We need a report — 75 per cent of the city wants a solution to this issue.”

Deputy-mayor O’Reilly told his fellow councillors, “I think some of the deputations we heard here today were well thought out and deserving of consideration. Ninety per cent of my constituents don’t want ATVs in Lindsay.”

Letham suggested, “Let’s step back for a month. We need to think about what our citizens want. This is going to be a change. There are a lot of unknowns. If ATVers abuse this privilege they will lose it. I am concerned about ATVs on Colborne and Angeline Streets accessing one of the worst intersections in town. We need a bit more study.”

Letham also made a request to join the task force at their May meeting to sit in on discussions, particularly about a pathway through Lindsay for ATVS.

“I am not opposed to linking the trails north to south but there are a lot of public comments and concerns. We need to look at a bypass around Lindsay. I would like that discussed and looked at.”

1 Comment

  1. Anne says:

    Hey, how do families weigh-in before ORVs ruin our reason we live here, in some cases multi-generationally, quiet, safe roads and trails fostering a conservation of nature-besides enjoying the outdoors generally either individually or with the whole family, & well-trained pets included? We know as long-time rural (and/or farming) people to have respect for tractors on the roads, and give way according to their speed and load, at various times of the year, as is necessary regardless. This is the currently-supported agrigarian way of life. These farming families are necessary as are their tractors essential. They use ORVs on their own land for farming purposes.

    Given that long-time understanding, how is it remotely possible that driving ORVs unsafely on well-traveled roads (maintained by taxpayers), when it is not supported by neighbours in this township nor the next, going to be anything but an insurance liability for the township? Who pays for that? Not to mention destruction on the roadsides that adds to errosion and run-off making it even more unsafe to the next passerby? Let alone the land that the additional run-off is occuring on that lessens its likelihood of maintaining wildlife and natural habitat for furure generations?

    Alternate “recreational” opportunities abound without ruining the sounds, sights, and safe habitats of nature, including run-off and water quality.

    There’s been no accurate sustaniable mechinations for creating a sustainable for-profit/not-for-profit-model that would have majority agreement to date when it comes to presenting ORVs on township roads as an income earner for taxpayers or otherwise.

    Thank you.

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