James family launches petition to ask council to delay ORV decision

By Roderick Benns

A Lindsay couple has launched a petition to ask council to put the brakes on any final off-road vehicle (ORV) decision that would see ORVs be able to be travel on Lindsay and Bobcaygeon streets.

Council meets Tuesday and will make a final decision for this issue that was originally discussed at committee of the whole.

Darryl and Robin James, who have launched the petition, say the final vote should be stalled.

“I first heard about the proposed routing very recently from a friend, and I was surprised that I didn’t know anything about it. I asked my friends and family who live close to the proposed routes and they also had no idea this proposal even existed,” says Darryl.

Darryl says as he continued to do more research he saw that only four per cent of the city respondents to a poll actually lived in Lindsay. “I felt that further work needed to be done to represent the people in our community.”

Robyn says they’re not anti-ORVs (also known as ATVs). “We don’t have concerns with people driving ATVs, we just don’t agree with the proposed routes along the residential areas, close to schools, theatres, parks…it just feels there are still too many unresolved concerns from the health unit, police, and the non-ORV community who live along these routes.”

She says there must be alternate routes that can be considered.

The petition notes that “the local health unit, public works, and police have major concerns yet to be addressed, and have suggested that it is not in the public’s best interest to proceed with the pilot program. The data shows that when it comes to ORV/ATV-related injuries, our health unit has some of the highest emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the province.”

The petition reads, “Although the ORV Task force survey indicates that most respondents were in favour, the majority of these respondents were ORV/ATV owners.”

The James’ petition acknowledges there may be some economic benefit to allowing ORVs to drive through Lindsay, but that “community safety must be a priority. Alternative routes must be reviewed, and recommendations from the health unit, police and public works should be further considered.”

“With all of this considered, a delay for further review must happen on Tuesday’s vote.”

The petition is available to sign here.

The James’ concerns echo Mayor Andy Letham’s at the last council meeting, one of only two council members, along with Pat O’Reilly, who voted against the route, even though he was in favour of doing a pilot in general.

“Now as we move forward to other issues,” Letham said, “it makes more sense to have other community members added to the task force in the fall for a better balance.”

Letham told council that it is important for the city to do the expansion of road access for ORVs “properly or the initiative will fail.”

The mayor said future decisions about ORVs on public roads need to be done slowly, rationally, logically and with debate that looks closely at the information available from all sources.

“The sky will not fall if we don’t do it all this year,” Letham argued. “We are taking away nothing from ATVers that isn’t currently available. We need to get this right, and I am sorry (but until a decision is made) put your ATV on a damn trailer and go and enjoy the trails like you have for the last 20 years. Let us at council deal properly with increased road access and trail linkages in a safe and deliberate manner.”

Darryl James says he was shocked to learn that ATV riders will be allowed to travel from their home, to and from the proposed route on most roads, meaning that ATVs “will actually be allowed to drive on any road in Lindsay.”

“I raised all of these concerns to my councillor, Pat Dunn, and he provided me with no data to support any of the benefits of the ORV/ATV proposal.”

The Advocate recently offered Kawartha ATV Association space to write about this issue in their own words but did not hear back from the organization.

–with files from Kirk Winter.

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