Off-road vehicles legal in St. Clair

·2 min read

St. Clair council finally came to a decision on off-road vehicle use in the township.

Oddly enough, it was done by not officially taking a position at all.

The issue of ORV legality has been debated several times in council over the last few months. The discussion was sparked by a provincial change that came into effect New Year’s Day making the vehicles street legal in any municipality without a bylaw preventing them.

St. Clair had no bylaw, bringing a series of drafts and revisions to winter meetings in an attempt to balance the wishes of riders and the rest of the community. One or more sticking points was usually found, with the lack of a decision leaving ORV’s de facto legal since the beginning of the year.

A new bylaw returned to council Mar. 15 and yet again was met with many of the same arguments that stalled previous versions. Use of ORV’s in town cores and along the St. Clair Parkway were the major impediments.

The option that finally came to a vote was to allow ORV use on all roads with some exceptions in busier areas. Councillors Bill Myers and Tracy Kingston voted yes, but Rose Atkins, Pat Brown and Jim DeGurse cast their votes for no. Deputy Mayor Steve Miller abstained, causing the vote to fail.

Following this latest impasse, Myers suggested another option: pass no bylaw at all. This despite the option not being recommended by Clerk Jeff Baranek.

“Opting to authorize the use of ORV’s by not passing a restrictive or prohibitive bylaw, eliminates the ability to control the time and location where they are used,” says Baranek in his report. “In this case, there would be nothing preventing a licensed operator to ride a permitted ORV to the grocery stores in downtown Corunna, or any other use an operator deems desirable. This scenario creates too many concerns by eliminating all control.”

But council decided it was time to finally put the issue to rest. Miller and DeGurse joined Myers and Kingston to give this option the votes, choosing to legalize ORV’s by not passing a bylaw.

“We’re hoping these people are going to be respectable people,” says Kingston. “Yes we’re going to have a few people that aren’t going to follow the rules. But we have to experiment with this… before we put so many restrictions on that people say forget it, I’m not even going to bother with it.”

Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent