ORV issue in Lindsay not quite decided as Dunn pushes council on procedural issue
Councillor Pat Dunn, chair of the ORV task force, used the Sept. 21 council meeting to remind the mayor and other councillors about procedural hurdles that are still in place regarding the city’s final decision to route ORV traffic around the city rather than through it.
ORVs, also known as ATVs, have consumed much municipal discussion time. Enthusiasts are trying to push for an unbroken trail that connects the south end of the city with the north, so riders do not have to load their machines into trailers or trucks through Lindsay.
“There has been a lot of talk about the ATV route,” said Dunn. “We have had two different surveys that have hardened local opinion both for and against the issue. In the first survey, 75 percent of the people from all over the city favoured a route through Lindsay. We cannot ignore that number. We can’t ignore 75 percent in favour.”
“The second survey only asked Lindsay people,” Dunn said. “717 people spoke against having ATVs in Lindsay. I appreciate the work of those who oppose ORVs in Lindsay. They have organized and done exactly what I would have done. I would have gone out and canvassed looking for people who support my point of view. Out of 20,000 they only found 717 in opposition.”
Dunn’s math – using the entire population of Lindsay which would include children — suggests that all Lindsay residents would have been allowed to, or interested in, voting. Most city polls garner only a fraction of interest. In this case, a larger percentage than normal voted in the second city poll on this issue, with 66 per cent of Lindsay residents voting against ATVs coming through Lindsay.
Sixty-six percent is a “big number,” said Councillor Emmett Yeo at the last committee of the whole meeting, before voting for an ORV route that would bypass Lindsay.
In the most recent council meeting this week, Dunn said there was too much reliance put on comments from Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge District Public Health Unit about accidents and ORVs, saying they were not accurate.
“Public health does not separate between ATVs and dirt bikes,” Dunn said. “There is a dirt bike course in Burnt River that EMS attends weekly because of injuries. That is the nature of that sport and those numbers are included with ORV numbers.”
Dunn suggested that the unit’s opinions on this entire subject are “somewhat suspect” because in his mind Dr. Natalie Bocking, HKPR medical officer of health, was not even willing to talk about ORVs until the city moved forward with their Active Transportation Plan.
Dunn then segued to the construction of a bridge for ORVs at Thunderbridge Road, which was the course of action council was moving toward to bypass Lindsay, after the last committee of the whole meeting. The councillor suggested it would never be built.
“We can consider a bridge,” Dunn said. “In 2009, we recommended a bridge at the cost of $3 million. With inflation that would likely be $4 million today. The project is not doable. We will never raise that kind of money and our Active Transportation Plan will not generate that kind of money. Bicyclists are not riding out to look at the sewage lagoons and the landfill site.”
“If council wants bypass options looked at, the ORV taskforce will do it, but it is a fact we can’t use Highway 7. We still have the issue of getting machines from Logie Street to Thunderbridge Road,” Dunn said.
Mayor Andy Letham joined in at this point.
“This conversation borders on the insane. Do you (Dunn) believe that Lindsay after all the letters, deputations and responses to surveys want an ORV route through town?”
“I have no idea.” Dunn said “This was supposed to be a two-year pilot project. I believe people are prepared to give it a try. I know I am and many of my neighbours are.”
Dunn then reminded council that there is the outstanding issue of a motion from the June meeting that approved the pathway through Lindsay by 7-2 pending more public input via a survey which was carried out during the summer months. That motion would have to be defeated by a vote of council before the issue of a pathway through Lindsay is finally defeated.
Letham initially believed Dunn was wrong, but after consultation with the clerk Cathie Ritchie and CAO Ron Taylor, said the councillor was correct.
“The motion based on the pilot discussion is still hanging around out there and needs to be put to bed one way or another, but we are not voting on that today. We are voting on a motion that will send this issue back to the task force to consider multiple routes around Lindsay perhaps with a bridge.”
That motion, put forward by the mayor, was approved unanimously, but in the arcane world of municipal rules and protocols there remains one last opportunity for proponents of the pathway through Lindsay to force the issue when the motion Dunn reminded council of is brought up for discussion sometime in the near future.