Grassroots group says ATV fight is “not over”

By Lindsay Advocate

The decision was a flipflop by council from an early September committee of the whole meeting.

Darryl James, a local entrepreneur and father of three who helped galvanize support to keep ORVs off Lindsay’s streets, says the fight is “not over.”

This statement comes after Kawartha Lakes City Council ended up supporting a two-year pilot that could see ATVs (also called ORVs) on Lindsay’s streets as off-road enthusiasts lobbied the city to link southern trails with those in the north of the city.

The decision was a flipflop by council from an early September committee of the whole meeting. In a tie vote then among councillors, Mayor Andy Letham cast the deciding vote to halt the proposed route through Lindsay and instead look at another option.

The difference from this time around at last week’s council meeting compared to the previous committee of the whole meeting was Councillor Emmett Yeo. He flipped his support to the other pro-ATV pilot councillors, which included: Pat Dunn, Tracy Richardson, Kathleen Seymour Fagan, and Ron Ashmore.

“They ignored all the expert advice and now they are ignoring their own survey,” says James, where more than 66 per cent said no to an ATV route through Lindsay. The grassroots group James and others started is called Keep Our Roads Safe in Lindsay.

“That is a clear majority,” he said.

This is in addition to numerous deputations and emails, plus a local petition where 847 Lindsay residents signed against any type of ATV route, pilot or permanent,” James added. James points out it was even confirmed by council members and staff that this was one of the highest response rates to a petition that the city had ever seen.

“They ignored the very large number of people who will be affected directly. It appears that council’s vote was more influenced by 145 emails over the weekend from pro ATVers, who likely don’t live in Lindsay,” said Lesley Barrett, a community member and activist in Kawartha Lakes.

She called it “simply bad public policy.”

Sharon Robbins, who has worked in public policy in the past and was against the route going through Lindsay, says it was a mistake to solicit input from the people most affected, as well as experts, “and then to make a decision that so blatantly ignores that input.”

“It brings the public’s confidence in the political process into question,” she says.

“This is not a must-do or a need…it’s a choice” said Heather Stauble, a former councillor for City of Kawartha Lakes, adding “You don’t make a decision like this against all expert advice, reports, and against the community’s input, with no maps, no risk or safety review, no cost assessment, and no criteria. It’s council’s job to listen to experts and constituents. They seem to have forgotten that.”  

Peter Petrosoniak, a long-time physician who lives in Lindsay, says almost half of the ATV incidents are on roads and almost all are due to recreational use. “Drugs, alcohol, age, speed, lack of experience, and driving in the dark are all factors in many of these accidents. The evidence from other areas, including the nearby municipalities of Penentanguisene and Haliburton, shows that the number of on-road ATV incidents will increase and shortly outnumber those off-road as more on-road access is allowed.”

Routes in Bobcaygeon, Pontypool, Bethany, Omemee, Long Beach and another route into Lindsay were added to the list at an ORV Task Force meeting last Friday, Oct. 15. Dunn described it as a “public meeting,” says a media release from Keep Our Roads Safe in Lindsay, “with Dunn claiming that there had been no request to make a deputation.”

“There was no notice of a public meeting,” in local media at all, “and no agenda until late Wednesday afternoon for a Friday morning meeting less than a day and half away,” says James. “This is not any kind of genuine review or consultation. Once again, residents in each of the areas on and near these routes should have been notified well in advance of any such meeting.”

“No one knew about the meeting” says Stauble, adding they usually get better notice for garbage collection. She says there are a lot of routes proposed that are arterial roads with heavy commuter traffic.

The groups wants to see a public meeting on this issue. Residents should contact council by email and phone, according to the media release, to let council know of these concerns. Request to make deputations may be made up until Friday Oct. 29 at noon before council meets.

Council has a limit of five deputations per meeting unless they waive their procedural bylaw.

Additional ATV routes in Lindsay, Bobcaygeon, Pontypool, Bethany, Omemee, Janetville, Long Beach and on arterial roads, which are not yet shown on the city’s website, will go to committee of the whole on Nov. 2 and to council on Nov. 16. 

The public should send their comments to council directly via email to:

Mayor Letham 

Councillor Yeo*

Councillor Seymour Fagan *

Councillor Elmslie

Councillor Veale

Councillor Dunn *

Councillor Ashmore *

Councillor O’Reilly 

Councillor Richardson *

An asterisk denotes a councillor who voted for an ATV route through Lindsay. Additional ATV routes going to committee of the whole in November proposed by the ORV Task Force on Oct. 15 have not been fully identified.

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