The Trails Act – Bill 100 (part of the Ontario Trail Strategy)
More than ever it is important to support the OF4WD. Without a single capable organization acting on your behalf, coordinating, funding trail management and maintenance programs and all the other things that go along with supporting and promoting the interests of 4×4, more access will be lost. The net result of the Ontario Trails Strategy is there will be a greater expectation and need for active trail management. [/three_fourth_last]
For those people that have read the OF4WD newsletters and attended our annual general meetings will know that the Ontario Trails Strategy has been one of the key topics of discussion for the best part of 10 years now.
What is Bill 100 all about and how does it affect the motorized community …
Bill 100 is one of the key deliverables out of this 10 year long and ongoing Ontario Trail Strategy program.
The stated purposes of this Act, taken from the bill, are:
- To increase awareness about and encourage the use of trails.
- To enhance trails and the trail experience.
- To protect trails for today’s generation and future generations.
- To recognize the contribution that trails make to quality of life in Ontario.
What this translates to is probably better summarized by the statement on the Ontario Registry http://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=18582 :
“The proposed Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act, 2015, if passed, would help to address a number of long-standing trail issues, including the need for a legislative mechanism to establish trail easements, clarifying liability and the standard of care required by not-for-profits and public organizations, and increasing allowable compensation for damage to property due to trespassing. It would also provide opportunities for enhanced trails tourism and the enhanced management, promotion and use of trails.
The proposed Act would enhance the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s ability to manage trails on Crown land by providing greater compliance and enforcement options, and by creating an offence for damage to Crown land and property.”
The key items of interest in the bill are :
- Changes to the Public Lands Act. A damage provision is being added. “No person shall cause a prescribed type of damage” to a) Crown land; or b) to Crown property that is situated on. That includes prescribed damage to any road or trail or water crossing etc.
- What constitutes “Prescribed type of damage” will be defined under a yet to be written regulation.
- OF4WD will continue to stay close to this and participate in direct consultation.
- Trespass to Property Act Increased penalties. The former $2000 limit for simple trespass will be raised to $10,000. The judgement for damage to property was capped to $1000 but that limit will now be removed, so, judgement for damage will be unlimited.
- Remember – the boundaries to private land are not always clearly marked.
- The Ontario Govt (MTCS) may establish a trail classification
- Easements. A private land owner may grant and register trail easements to one or more eligible bodies. Eligible bodies include a band (under Indian act), Aboriginal community, Conservation Authority, Municipality, registered charitable corporations. An Easement basically is a special form of legal agreement that will define access to a benefiting trail group (eligible body). This part of the Bill is causing quite a bit of controversy at the moment with landowners and led some landowners to shut down snowmobile trails across their land.
- Personally, I think because this measure imposes significantly greater commitment from a landowner the take up may not be that great.
- Occupier Liability act Basically if you don’t charge fee for entry or accommodation except incidental fees such as parking (this is the change) for people to access your property for recreational then your duty of care is reduced. Under the act people are deemed to have willingly assumed all risks and landowner duty of care is set out in the Occupiers Liability act.
What is the net result of all this… more management of the crown land trail infrastructure.
The OF4WD capability and success in helping with that management will depend on your support.