Bracebridge Town Council passes ATV bylaw

Peter Aykroyd of Bigwind lake shared this update with us.  

Dear Bigwind and Area Friends

Unfortunately Town Council passed the ATV by-law last evening by an 8 to 1 vote. The one dissenting Councillor was Scott Young who endeavoured to defer the by-law motion to allow further study of the suggestion of a specific-use permit for local residents who could demonstrate valid need and ongoing operating responsibility. His motion to consider this alternative was defeated by a 5 to 4 vote.

Despite my submissions to Council including my concerns as to financial viability ( the Town's roads and transportation expense has been 81% over budget for the last 4 audited fiscal years) ; safety ( reference to the exceptionally well researched data provided in letters from Drs. Howie Abrams and Pauline Pariser) and despite drawing attention to what seem to be possible errors and/or possible inaccuracies in the draft by-law ( such as references to the Highway Traffic Act but not the applicable Off-Road Vehicles Act ; or, the ATV by-law area map showing Bigwind lake Prov. Park in grey as an "ATV area permitted ") , and further notwithstanding two fine presentations by Dave Wharry and Dianna Armstrong of the Wood Lake Cottagers' Association, Inc. including Dave's reference to the Town contradicting its own stated green/environmentally conscious strategic plan vision, a majority of Council members were prepared to proceed with and approve this open road by-law as presently drafted.

Interestingly, the Town Clerk, Lori McDonald, when asked , advised Council that the ATV by-law would result in "negligible" additional costs for the Town. This seemed to reassure most members of Council but I'm not sure how she can say that so definitively when the Town's professional staff, including the Director of Public Works, recently reported ( Staff Report PW015-13) " Actual costs are unknown at this time and are hard to project ". At the meeting, the Town's Chief Administrative Officer, John Sisson, stated that he likewise couldn't estimate the level of possible ATV- related additional costs. The Town's new Director of Finance/Treasurer, Carol Anne MacLellan made no comment and provided no input throughout the meeting .

The by-law has an 18 -month probationary period that extends to the first quarter of 2015. By then we could have some new faces on Council after the fall 2014 municipal election.

The by-law provides that ATV operation is year round but only from sunrise to sunset. It appeared that some members of Council seem to think that the ATV by-law is introducing a 20 km ATV speed limit to our rural roads, but that speed limit thankfully already applies under provincial law.

If you are concerned about firearms in our area you will be interested to know that the seeming assurance provided in an August 9th letter by Councillor Barb McMurray that the by-law would " ...prohibit ATVs in areas where firearms are restricted or prohibited " never found its way to the approved ATV By-law.

The By-Law's Section 1.1 definition of an ATV is nebulous in my opinion since it is defined by reference to the Highway Traffic Act which in itself ( Section 191.8(5) ) only defines off-road vehicles by reference to the Off-Road Vehicles Act . That Act's definition, however, includes two categories for off-road vehicles including motorized dirt bikes. The Town ATV by-law doesn't distinguish these categories of off-road vehicles and may need clarification to specify that it intends to include only the 4-wheel ATV category.

Similarly, the new by-law ( at Section 2.2) states that ATVs must comply with operation requirements for ATVs under the Highway Traffic Act ("HTA") . From my reading, there are no specific ATV operating requirements in the HTA unless ATVs possibly fall under the HTA's general definition of "motorized vehicles". There are specific ATV operation requirements in the Off-Road Vehicles Act to which the Town's new ATV by-law makes no reference.

So in a somewhat large nutshell there it is. We gave it our best efforts. If you are not happy with any aspect of the by-law I suggest that you contact all members of Town Council and key members of Town staff to voice your opinion and report any irresponsible ATV riding in our area.

Kind regards,


Petition to oppose ATV bylaw

We recently sent out a survey asking whether or not you would like your Board to oppose the proposed by-law to allow ATVs on municipal roadways in rural Bracebridge. The response was overwhelmingly in support of the Board opposing the proposed by-law. As a result, the Board has created an on-line petition that anyone can electronically “sign” to indicate to Bracebridge Town Council that they oppose the proposed by-law. The on-line petition can be found here:

It is important to note that anyone can sign this petition, whether they are a cottager, permanent resident or just an occasional visitor to Bracebridge. So please feel free to forward the petition to anyone you feel would like to sign it. However, the petition needs to be signed as quickly as possible since the Town of Bracebridge has requested that all petitions on this subject be presented by August 13th in preparation for the Council meeting on August 21st.

Dianna Armstrong and Dave Wharry will be attending the Council meeting on August 21st and speaking in opposition to the proposed by-law.