Municipal ATV bylaws

Clarity needed

The use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on roadways is back in the forefront of local municipal politics. Currently ATVs are prohibited on any road, with the exception of a farm exemption. Ontario legislation has recently allowed municipalities to pass bylaws permitting ATVs on municipal roads.

Wellington County council wasn’t interested in allowing ATVs on county roads, but would reconsider if the three northern municipalities worked together to allow it. At the time, Wellington North did not go forward, but did say they were interested in continuing the conversation.

Now, two years later, Mapleton council has said they are interested. These ATVs should stick to what they were built for: off road. But a local bylaw could offer more clarity on how and when they are allowed to be used, because people still use them improperly, roaring down trailways and local roads.

ATVs do have benefits, especially for farm purposes. A new bylaw is a good idea if it, as councillor Marlene Ottens put it, ends the confusion for good.

– Olivia


Bad idea

Mapleton is looking at regulating ATVs within the township.

While governing ATV use makes sense – we’ve all seen (or been!) those kids who tear around with reckless abandon – isolated township laws likely won’t go so far.

First, municipal boundaries are political, not geographic. So if an ATV user is following the Highway Traffic Act, Off-Road Vehicles Act and other bylaws in Centre Wellington or Minto and crosses over into Mapleton, the chances are they may not know they’ve crossed into a bylaw-enforced zone.

Next, for a bylaw to be enforced, a bylaw officer must be available. I doubt citizens will be calling the bylaw officer if they see an ATV user going rogue. Chances are, they won’t even know if the ATV user is in the wrong.

While Mapleton councillor Marlene Ottens makes a good point that it is time to end the confusion, a federal, or at the very least provincial, change is necessary.

We don’t have municipality-dependent laws for on-road vehicles, why should we for ATV use?

– Jaime

Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik