BRUCE COUNTY – If you’re heading out ATVing on Bruce County’s trails this summer, you’d better have your trail permit – and you’d be well advised not to litter or destroy trees.
Bruce County’s transportation and environmental services department is embarking on an eight-week pilot project for enforcement of recreational bylaw infractions.
The project involves entering into an agreement with James Special Services.
Amanda Froese, director of transportation and environmental services, explained that the project would be for enforcing bylaws in all county forests and on the Bruce County Rail Trail.
The county has approximately 160 km of multi-use trails that consists of the 80-km Bruce County Rail Trail corridor and managed forest trail networks.
Froese said the county does not have a bylaw officer to enforce bylaws or issue tickets; problems are left to staff to enforce. She noted the Ontario Provincial Police were called in but didn’t issue any tickets.
“The trails have seen increased use since COVID,” Froese said, adding that the ATV clubs are in support of the bylaw enforcement pilot project.
As stated in the report to council, prepared by Andrew Beumer, trails manager, “This pilot will allow us to educate trail users, track warnings and number of tickets issues, identify problem areas, and provide the county with an understanding of what enforcement resources are required moving forward.”
The revenue generated from fines will offset expenses related to enforcement costs.
Many of the bylaw issues involve property damage and unauthorized trail use, according to Froese. While vandalism (as well as littering and tree removal) is difficult to predict or enforce, “knowledge officers may be present on our trails may deter some individuals from damaging county resources.”
As stated in the report, “Repairing trails and property infrastructure caused by unauthorized trail users is one of the most time-consuming activities for staff. These repairs can be expensive and quickly exhaust resources and staff time.” Utilizing bylaw officers will allow staff to focus on trail maintenance and improvements.
Another common issue is compliance with trail permits on motorized trails. Approximately 95 km of the county’s trail network is designated for ATV use by permit and the trails are maintained by the South Bruce Peninsula ATV and the Huron Shores ATV clubs. Permits are sold by the local clubs and the funds from these permits go directly into insurance coverage, trail repairs, signage, and rider education on county lands. On average, two users out of five encountered on a trail will have a permit. This lost revenue directly impacts service levels and infrastructure improvements done yearly by the clubs. Enforcing the use of permits would generate revenue for the clubs that will have a direct impact on infrastructure improvements in our county forests and the Bruce County Rail Trail.
James Special Services provides bylaw enforcement in Chatsworth, Kincardine, Arran-Elderslie, Northern Bruce Peninsula, South Bruce Peninsula and Grey Highlands.
The $10,000 pilot program is being funded in part from the restart program, with $3,000 contributed by the ATV clubs.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times