Tay bylaw prohibits ATVs and ORVs on municipal lands and roads

·3 min read

Tay councillors overrode a request made by a fellow member to make amendments to pass a strict bylaw prohibiting all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) from municipal lands and roads.

Coun. Barry Norris was the one who asked for the amendment to give some wiggle room to those who use these vehicles for farming-related tasks or for plowing snow from their or a neighbour's driveway or to access the lake when ice fishing.

"If you don't, that means all ATVs and ORVs are prohibited and breaking the law," he said, at a recent council meeting. "That means anyone who is caught on the road, whether it's me going over to my mom's, or someone else, is subject to a fine."

Norris said this would be a harsh step to take between now and when the township completes its roads safety study, which will look into the matter.

The topic came to the table after the province forced the municipality's hand to make a decision around regulating ORVs and ATVs, saying it would step in and permit all ORVs on municipal roads by default if a municipal bylaw isn't passed.

Staff came forward with a prohibitive bylaw that would govern the situation until the roads safety study was completed.

And council was in agreement with staff.

"I'd rather see us delay this and leave it as it is and not open the door to the 'what if' scenario," said Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle.

There was also support from Coun. Jeff Bumstead.

"The current situation is that ATVs are illegal on the road and enforcement has not been there," he said. "Is that going to change? I don't see it changing. Like Deputy Mayor LaChapelle said, and I said back in committee, we do due diligence on all vehicles on the road and we've been getting complaints about car speeds and now we're putting ATVs on the road.

"I say we stick with the strictest form right now and ban them all until we figure out how to implement them on the road safely," added Bumstead.

Coun. Paul Raymond offered some consolation.

"I just want to point out to Coun. Norris the exemptions' section that says all the farms in the rural area are allowed to use them for farming," he said. "There's another one that said the bylaw does not apply to the following persons operating ORVs for farming or work purposes."

Raymond said he could see ORVs as a valid use for ice fishing.

"It's a safer way to move, but not everybody here ice fishes," he added. "I think the bylaw needs to go as presented until we've had a chance to study it further."

Norris also had concerns around enforcement.

"What council has to realize is this municipality has never had a bylaw to govern ORVs," he said. "That's why it's always fallen back on the OPP. By you passing this, all of a sudden your bylaw officer can be out there to ticket everybody. That's why I was asking for the amendment."

LaChapelle said he didn't think that would happen.

"I don't think they'll be able to ticket everybody," he said. "If the OPP can't catch them on their cruiser, I doubt our guys will be able to catch them. I think the best way is to have it enforced by the OPP."

Eventually, the bylaw was passed prohibiting all ORVs and ATVs on municipals roads and lands.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com