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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ontario Trails - We can do it side by side

David says we can do it side by side

Monday, June 08, 2015   by: Kenneth Armstrong
When an automobile accident 11 years ago left Donald Calvert with a disability, he thought his ability to enjoy the trails around Sault Ste. Marie was over.

Then, in 2008, a manufacturer of ATVs and snowmobiles brought to market a trail-capable side-by-side off-road vehicle (ORV).

New provincial legislation, which begins July 1, will allow enhanced on-road access for two-up ATVs, side-by-side ORVs and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs).

The previous legislation only allowed ATVs that you straddle to sit on and include handlebars to ride along the side of roads.

“Common sense told me there was no reason side-by-sides should not be recognized as off-road vehicles,” Doncalvert said.

In fact, when he first purchased his side-by-side, he spent the whole season driving along the side of city streets to get to his favourite trails near Goulais.

"The next season, on the first day out we were pulled over by an OPP officer who enlightened us,” he said.

A change to the city by-laws would be required for this legislation to take effect within city limits as currently only snowmobiles are permitted on certain rural city streets.

A bylaw to allow side-by-side ATV use within the city had been in the works but was put on hold awaiting provincial legislative changes.

Matthew Caputo, solicitor/prosecutor for the city, said a very rough draft of such a bylaw was prepared.

The bylaw would need to come back to city council.

“This would give me a little more freedom to be able to drive from my house and not having to bring my trailer and vehicle to the trails. It would definitely increase the time I can spend trail-riding and with my daughter,” Doncalvert  said.

Currently, Calvert relies on someone to help him load and off-load his side-by-side ORV.
New Regulations Improves Safety Requirements for Riders 
Ontario has enhanced on-road access for more types of ORVs and ATVs while increasing safety requirements so riders can safely and easily reach their destinations, announced David Orazietti, MPP.

“Connecting Northern Ontario’s trails through increased on-road access will benefit local residents while boosting economic activity and expanding tourism opportunities,” said Orazietti. “By enabling municipalities to pass by-laws consistent with these new regulations our government is delivering important changes and new options to safely explore and enjoy the unique experiences our province offers.” 

Beginning July 1, 2015, the following changes will be implemented:
  • More types of ORVs & ATVs will be allowed enhanced on-road access, including two-up ATVs, side-by-side ATVs and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs).
  • All riders – including drivers and passengers of all ages – must wear a helmet and use a seatbelt or foot rests, where applicable. 
  • Maximum overall width of equipment permitted, excluding mirrors, will now be 2.03 metres or 79.9 inches
Between July 1, 2015 and September 1, 2015 a public education period will be implemented to assist the public and riding community adjust to the changes.

Beginning in September the full implementation will be in place.

“These new changes are great news for those of us who use off-road vehicles like side-by-sides, ATVs and UTVs,” said Don Calvert, Chairman, Sault Accessible Sports Incorporated and an off-road vehicle enthusiast. “Now individuals and families like ours can enjoy greater access to the outdoors and will see more opportunities for recreational activities in and around our community.”

Northern Ontario is home to thousands of kilometres of recreational trails making it a popular destination for riders from across Canada and the world.

Consultations with a wide array of trail, municipal, industry, enforcement, health and safety stakeholders informed the changes to strike the right balance between safety, enhanced trail access and the expansion of tourism and local economic development opportunities.

Exploring Northern Ontario’s tourism and recreational opportunities is part of the government’s economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow.

The comprehensive plan focuses on Ontario’s greatest strengths – its people and strategic partnerships.

“Our government recognizes the importance of a vibrant, sustainable and safe powersports sector in Ontario, and we support providing Ontarians with options to safely explore our vast province,” said Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.

  • Drivers operating a permitted ORV along a road or highway must hold at least a G2 or M2 driver’s licence, and their vehicle must be registered and insured.
  • Previous to July 1, 2015, only single-rider ATV’s, manufactured to carry a driver only and no passengers, could operate along certain provincial and municipal highways.
  • Off-road vehicle (ORVs) is a broad term that can include single-rider, two-up and side-by-side ATVs and utility terrain vehicles.
(PHOTO: MPP David Orazietti and Don Calvert are pictured at Rivercity Motorsports during an announcement of the rule change today. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday)