Province to hold review after passage of off-road vehicles bill

One week after Ontario’s Legislative Assembly unanimously passed John Vanthof’s bill to allow side-by-sides and two-up off-road vehicles on provincial highways, the provincial government announced Feb. 25 it will hold a review of the regulations concerning off-road vehicles.

“This is one more step in the long road to get the Liberals to recognize the needs of people in rural and northern Ontario,” said Vanthof. “The government is finally realizing that off-road vehicles have changed, and the rules for off-road vehicles need to change with them.”

Currently, only handlebar-driven all-terrain vehicles with one seat can legally be driven on the shoulders of provincial highways, putting Ontario out of step with provinces such as Quebec that have long allowed multi-passenger off-road vehicles on highways.

The restriction means popular ATV categories like side-by-sides and two-ups face barriers when using recreational trails that cross provincial roads. Similar barriers are faced by workers in side-by-side utility task vehicles. They need to use the highway shoulder in order to access work sites.

Vanthof’s bill would mean multi-passenger off-road vehicles would be regulated in the same way as single-rider ATVs.

“The rules for off-road vehicles need to reflect the reality in northern and rural Ontario, where people now use side-by-sides and two-ups as part of their daily work routine and for leisure,” Vanthof said.  “Someone driving their side-by-side from their home to their work site should not risk being charged just because their machine has room for two passengers.”

“We are closer than ever to victory, but we need to keep the pressure up. I urge all riders of side-by-sides and two-ups to take part in this review, and make sure you’re heard by the government,” said Vanthof.