Clearview should follow neighbours’ lead on ATVs

 In Opinion

On Oct. 26, a draft bylaw to allow access to all roads and road allowances in Clearview (except part of Fairgrounds Road, part of the Sixth Line, Mill Street and a portion of County Road 91) will be back before council for discussion. In this article, we address three specific deficiencies in the current proposed bylaw and suggest a plan of action.
It is frankly appalling that council is proceeding with a highly divisive bylaw drafted on the basis of one-size-fits-all, which ignores the interests of local residents in having safe roads, quiet enjoyment of their homes and preserving Creemore’s village character both for residents and as Clearview’s primary tourism attraction. This is neither prudent nor good governance.
CARA’s position is that ATVs and ORVs should be expressly prohibited from accessing any roads, unopened road allowances, rights of way and unmaintained or unassumed roads in Creemore and in the surrounding areas in Wards 2 and 5. We know most local residents agree with us. However, if the mayor continues to disagree, at least some glaring deficiencies should be fixed.
It is inexplicable that Clearview staff are recommending unrestricted ATV/ORV access on permitted roads in all settlement areas, given that they were directed to use the recent ATV bylaws adopted in Wasaga Beach and Springwater as guides. In both of those bylaws, ATVs/ORVs are prohibited on urban area settlement area roads unless for one of two purposes: 1) for direct access to a trail route; and 2) to access lodging or accommodations, food or fuel. In Oro-Medonte, council took a principled and ward-by-ward approach that resulted in ORVs being prohibited on most settlement area roads for safety reasons. Amendments to conform to the guideline bylaws are clearly warranted.
It is equally inexplicable and indeed totally indefensible that Clearview staff are not planning to prohibit ATVs/ORVs on Clearview’s unopened road allowances, unlike in the bylaws of the neighbouring municipalities that they were directed by council to follow. Unless the CAO or the Clerk can produce bylaws that closed all the original road allowances or parts of road allowances, the Municipal Act stipulates that Clearview owns all the original 66-foot wide road allowances made by the Crown surveyors and all road allowances later shown on a registered plan of subdivision. The unopened road allowances are sometimes colloquially referred to as “rights of way” or “unassumed” roads.
Just as in the Wasaga Beach and Springwater bylaws, ATVs and ORVs should be expressly prohibited on all unopened road allowances unless such a vehicle is required for emergency response services. Furthermore, as in the Springwater bylaw, they should be prohibited in ditches, drainage areas or other portions of the highway outside of the travelled portion of the highway. In addition, for greater certainty, CARA submits that ATVs and ORVs should be prohibited on all of Clearview’s rights of way, unmaintained roads, unassumed roads and summer roads. ATV/ORV access to these areas should be denied for environmental, safety, municipal liability risk and maintenance cost reasons. This is particularly important on lands protected and regulated by the NEC and NVCA.
Clearview staff is recommending that the OPP be responsible for enforcement of the Highway Traffic Act provisions that apply to ATV/ORV use. Staff was silent on the responsibility of the Township to enforce its own new bylaw. This will be particularly important after the Province changes the law that presently prohibits ATVs and ORVs on all highways, unless a municipality has expressly permitted such use on roads within its jurisdiction. The onus is about to change to make such highway use legal, unless a municipality has prohibited it. Mr. Dan Perrault at the Sept. 28 Council meeting emphasized that the OPP must set priorities when enforcing laws, seemingly recognizing that the OPP has not and cannot effectively enforce ATV bylaws.
CARA knows from many complaints in and around Creemore that enforcement only by the OPP has not been effective. There have been many violations with ATVs on currently prohibited roads and unsafe, indeed, reckless driving on these roads. Clearview should follow the Wasaga Beach and Springwater bylaws that staff were directed to use as guides and have additional enforcement by municipal bylaw enforcement officers or others.
In response to CARA’s survey done in August, the overwhelming majority of members from Ward 2 (n=27) and Ward 5 (n=76), representing 296 residents when family members are added, said they do not want any change to the current limited ATV access bylaw. We sent the survey results to the Mayor and Council, most of whom ignored the results. (See www.creemoreresidents.ca/atvs for the full CARA survey results.)
Ask yourselves: Why is council trying to allow ATV/ORVs on all of your residential streets for any purpose whatsoever and on all unopened road allowances, rights of way, unassumed and unmaintained roads in Clearview, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days of the year?
If you live in Clearview, call or write the mayor at dmeasures@clearview.ca and tell him: Please do not allow ATVs/ORVs in Creemore (and/or your local area) and keep them off all unopened road allowances, rights of way, ditches, and unmaintained or unassumed roads in Clearview. Make sure to include your address.

CARA Corner is authored by Greg Young and Valerie Dyer for the Creemore Area Residents’ Association.

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