Snowmobile Trails under the new Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act

Published January 1, 2017

In 2016, the Ontario government passed legislation to “sustain and improve the province’s trails system” replacing decades’ old informal arrangements between trail users and landowners that have served both very well for years. According to the government’s news release, the Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act “will strengthen ‎Ontario’s extensive trails system. It will protect and enhance thousands of kilometres of the province’s urban, suburban, rural and remote land and water trails while also encouraging its expansion.”

Many landowners were unaware that this Act was being drafted and it was only through the efforts of the OLA to spread awareness of the government’s intentions that many were able to provide their comments and to ask questions about the implications of the Bill.

There are still many questions concerning the Act and the regulations that will surely follow. The OLA has received many questions from landowners about contracts they are being asked to sign to allow snowmobilers to use their land. At their annual meeting in October, the OLA chose not to endorse any of the memoranda of understanding (MOUs), presented to them by the snowmobile clubs, for their review. Instead, the OLA suggests that people bring any contracts or MOUs they are asked to sign to their lawyer.

The OLA further suggests that property owners consider using rental agreements for usage of trails across their land. Rental agreements are between the property owner and the trails organization and would exclude the government.
If you subscribe to Better Farming, there is a very good and balanced article on Bill 100 entitled Right of Passage by Mary Baxter, in their January 2017 issue. http://www.betterfarming.com.

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