The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever would like Grey County to explore the possibility of a paid permit system for motorized vehicles using county-owned recreational trails.
Soever made the suggestion at county council’s committee of the whole meeting on April 28. County staff presented council with a report about usage and maintenance costs for the county-owned CP Rail Trail.
The 77-kilometre trail runs through the heart of Grey County from Owen Sound to Dundalk. The trails sees a wide variety of uses including: hiking, cycling, equestrian, cross-country skilling, snowmobiles and ATVs.
County staff have been gathering data about trail users and have seen an uptick in the usage of the trail as more people visit and move to the local area. With use of the trail increasing, the county is looking at a re-surfacing bill for the southern portion of the trail of $926,466.
County staff told council maintenance costs are rising in general and that sections of the trail that see more usage by motorized vehicles do require more work.
“To try and accommodate a wide variety of users, but also keeping our maintenance costs low is the challenge that is before us,” said Grey County deputy CAO Randy Scherzer.
County staff plan to explore partnership opportunities with trail user groups such as local ATV and snowmobile clubs.
Soever suggested a permit system was an option the county should explore. The Blue Mountains Mayor noted that the staff report outlined that maintenance costs on trails with motorized traffic were higher than pedestrian-only trails.
“There is more damage to gates on the motorized trails and I would imagine there is more damage to the surface as well. Have we looked at maybe a trail pass or something for motorized users to help defer some of those costs?” Soever asked. “Perhaps, just like snowmobile trails, there could be a fee for the motorized users.”
Soever, however, did note that the county might not have the staff resources to implement such a system.
“If we’re trying to raise funds by introducing fees, then you have to have a way of collecting them and making sure they’re collected,” he said.
In response, county staff said they would explore the options suggested by Mayor Soever further.
Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca