As Dufferin and Grey Counties both invest in upgrades to the CP rail trail, many existing user groups will share the trail with new recreational cyclists.
The surface grading improvements and stone-dusting will attract more cyclists than just the mountain bikers who could handle the rougher surface in the past.
In the summer, the public trails are shared by walkers, hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. ATVs are permitted on most of the trail, but not from County Rd. 18 to Owen Sound. Motorcycles are not permitted. In the winter, snowmobiles use the trails.
Grey County includes the CP Rail Trail in its Cycling Brochure. But up to now, use has been limited by the rougher surfaces south of Berkley.
According to the visitgrey.ca website the coarse gravel portion from Berkeley to Dundalk is a rougher trail and allows for ATV use, and would best be suited for mountain bikes only.
Dufferin Grey ATV Club for riders of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs, 2-Ups, Side-by-sides), have been prime trail users, from County Road 16 in Dufferin north to County Road 18 in Grey.
Motorized use of the trail from County Rd. 18 north is prohibited in spring, summer and fall. Snowmobile use is permitted on the whole trail but only to members of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs.
Dufferin-Grey ATV club members have contributed to maintenance, which benefits all users, as their website says “we do consider ourselves a custodian of the trails for other users as well.”
As might be imagined, there can be conflicts between motorized and non-motorized use. Often, especially in attracting tourism, cycling has been seen as the desirable market, while ATV and snowmobile users.
Issues also occur when the garbage is left behind or damage is done to the trail or the land beside the trail.
Grey County’s Recreational Master Plan sets a goal of “accommodating all recreational interests where it is environmentally acceptable and economically feasible.” But it notes in the next sentence that “it may not be possible to satisfy all user groups.”
The Dufferin-Grey ATV Club notes that it “would like to see ATV riding welcomed within our Townships for its recreational and economic benefits, and are working within Dufferin and Grey counties to achieve our goal.”
Just last year, Grey County turned down a request from the Dufferin-Grey ATV Club to allow wider side-by-sides on the trail. Right now 54 inches is the maximum width permitted for ATVs and SxSs. The speed limit is 40 km/hr.
County council had concerns about the cost of wider trails, as well as liability and conflicts between users.
The club now provides bypass routes from Dundalk and Markdale to main trails. Dufferin Grey ATV Club also maintains its own trails for which it has landowner agreements, and spends money from user fees and fundraising on trail maintenance.
M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald