By Kirk Winter

Former Councillor Doug Hodgson updated Council on the pilot program that ran from February 2018 to July 2018 that allowed side by side ATVs to access the Victoria County Rail Trail and the Sommerville Forest north of Highway 8.

Hodgson shared that the pilot project had gone well with much support from both the local ATV and snowmobiling communities. A side-by-side ATV was defined for the purpose of the pilot project as being a vehicle no wider than 64 inches and the test was conducted on only a very small part of the trail system.

Hodgson proposed to the City that a second pilot project be approved that allows the ATVs access into Fenelon Falls for food, fuel and accommodations. Hodgson pointed out that last ATV season there were 11,000 visits to the CKL for the purpose of four wheeling, and that this is a rapidly growing niche tourism market that the City should encourage. Haliburton and Trent Lakes already allow this kind of vehicle usage on a permanent basis, and Hodgson is hopeful the CKL will follow suit.

Safe driving on the VRT will continue to be enforced by a mixed group of ATV volunteers, CKL Bylaw Officers, and paid duty police officers.

The Kawartha ATV Club is willing to provide $50,000 for maintenance of the trail, and as a club they will take it upon themselves to widen the access gates to allow for these much wider four wheelers to gain access to the VRT while keeping out Jeeps and “mudder” trucks.

Craig Shanks, Director of Parks and Culture for the City, stated that regulations governing the usage of ATVs in the City are being discussed by City staff, but they definitely need to be updated before the next ATV season is in full swing.

Councillors wanted to know how ATVs could get into Fenelon Falls without violating currently enforced road usage laws. Director Robinson, responsible for roads in CKL, agreed with the Councillors that laws would have to be amended to allow access to Fenelon, and that for next week when this subject is voted on by Council there was not time to amend the existing usage bylaws.

Deputy Mayor Elmslie seemed particularly interested in this issue and asked a number of questions to Mr. Hodgson. Elmslie wanted to know especially if there had been any issues regarding the use of side by sides during the pilot project. Hodgson assured the Deputy Mayor that based on their data the pilot project was so successful that an extension of the pilot project is warranted.

Council will vote on extending the pilot project at their meeting on March 26, 2019.

City HallDeb Crossen