NORTH PERTH – Following discussion of a draft bylaw regarding the use of off-road vehicles in North Perth on Aug. 23, council voted in favour of passing the bylaw once an amended version comes back to council.
On March 29, council heard a delegation from Shawn Thompson regarding the use of off-road Vehicles or ATVs in North Perth. Staff was directed to proceed with public engagement and provide the community with an opportunity to complete a survey regarding the use of off-road vehicles in North Perth.
The survey results from 298 individuals indicated that 87.9 per cent of respondents are in favour of Off-Road Vehicles operating on North Perth roads. 61.7 per cent felt there should not be any restrictions and 60.7 per cent felt that there should be specific municipal roadways where they should be permitted.
Before Jan. 1, the Highway Traffic Act allowed regulations and municipal bylaws to be passed permitting the operation of off-road vehicles. If no municipal bylaws were in place, off-road vehicles were not allowed on municipally-owned roads. Now, the legislation changes from the province, which come into effect in the new year, have reversed this. Unless prohibited through a municipal bylaw, off-road vehicles will be able to operate on municipal roads.
Minto adopted a bylaw indicating where off-road vehicles are not permitted. The draft bylaw submitted for council discussion on Aug. 23, is very similar to the Town of Minto and Township of North Huron.
Coun. Matt Richardson opened up the discussion, stating it was good to see a survey result back with such positive results.
“I do think we need to move forward and go ahead with the draft bylaw being proposed,” he said. “I do like the restrictions on Main and Wallace and in front of hospitals and nursing homes and other sites. I don’t see it as being a scourge of town by any means… At least if they are allowed to get out of town it’ll be of benefit to those who happen to participate in that sport… I do agree that highways are just not the spot for that. I like the draft the way it is written.”
Coun. Julie Behrns raised a few concerns.
“It said no person should operate an off-road vehicle on any highway between Dec. 1 and March 31,” she said.
“It did exempt the hunters. I would think it would exempt the hunters and farmers from that time frame. Sometimes during agricultural practices, there are reasons to be able to access land and it’s easier to do it with an ATV and it’s easier to do it off of a road instead of through a field.”
Although she did suggest that exemption for farms, she asked that rural areas be included in the urban timeslot where usage is not allowed between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Whether it’s urban or rural it shouldn’t matter,” she said. “If it’s not good for noise in the urban centre, it’s probably not good for noise in the rural centres.”
Coun. Matt Duncan said the provincial rules about the use of ATVs by farmers and trappers on roads would probably cover that and supersede the local bylaw because it’s provincial legislation in the Highway Traffic Act.
He also had concerns about the wording of the bylaw on written permission to ride on private property.
“If you just back that down to permission of the property owner – I don’t it’s proper of us to use stuff in our by law that’s Trespass and Property Act material and that’s more or less what that is,” said Duncan.
He said there should be exemptions for farmers to be able to use ATVs at all hours and during the winter in urban areas for snow removal.
“(It) will restrict the fact that they can travel around Atwood to use their ATVs for snow clearing,” he said.
Coun. Allan Rothwell said the bylaw could include specific exemptions for hunters and farmers.
Coun. Terry Seiler asked for confirmation that the regulations on the North Perth walking trails which do not permit motorized vehicles would remain in effect.
Mayor Todd Kasenberg confirmed that the bylaw does not change the rules on the walking trails. Motorized vehicles will still not be permitted on them.
Coun. Neil Anstett asked if the municipality has the discretion to raise the rates of the fines.
“I’m just concerned that if the fines aren’t working and enforcement is not stopping any problems we are having we may need to look at tougher enforcement measures,” he said.
Clerk Pat Berfelz said they can make changes but the rates in the bylaw are very consistent with neighbouring communities.
Kasenberg reminded council before the vote that the resolution would not pass the draft bylaw submitted with the report.
“It just says we’ve collected comments and we’re going to bring forward (another) draft of the bylaw in the near future that reflects the comments being made,” he said.
Council voted in favour of the resolution to pass the bylaw as amended.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner