Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Ontario Trails News - we continue to correct misinformation about Bill 100 - why don't they stop?

Ontario Trails Council wants all to "Know your Agreement"


As a charitable organization working to promote the management, use, development and preservation of recreational trails, the Ontario Trails Council is concerned that the facts regarding Bill 100, trails and landowners, are being misunderstood by some groups.
 
To be clear, Bill 100 only affects landowners who want to negotiate an easement for trail access. It in no way makes trails on private or public land nor does it take negotiation rights away from landowners. What it does is make the process clearer. As an aide we've provided a Q and A for landowners and trail groups.
 
Q and A
 
1) Do I own my land after Bill 100?  – Yes. The landowner is still the owner of the land. Your land is not given up through the Act. The landowner still has title and deed even through an easement process.
 
2) What does easement mean? Easement means you are providing access to your land. Addition - it's a formal legal agreement between a landowner and a trail group to allow access to their land, that is voluntary and must be consented to by both parties.
 
3)  Land easements between 3rd party groups and private landowners are negotiated and are not government expropriation - Bill 100 does not represent or enable government expropriation, and the word expropriation is not mentioned in the Act. An easement is not an expropriation.
 
4)  Bill 100 improves easement negotiation  - the Act itself doesn't give trail groups more rights, it means that trail groups have to negotiate the easement with landowners. If you don't want to negotiate an easement you won't have to.
 
5)  Are your property rights lost or not protected through easement agreement? Easements are legally binding so you want to secure your best possible protection and expectations going forward with your easement. Make sure you secure your requirements when you ease. Before signing make sure you are in agreement with the terms of the agreement.
 
6)  Future trespass and Bill 100 - currently there are limits of cash penalty for trespass and for property damage. Trail groups worked with landowners to secure "no damage limits' so if you, your business or your property, off the easement, are damaged, you have greater legal recourse via Bill 100 than you currently have now.

7)  Easements are between you and the third party. Bill 100 reinforces a fair and reviewable process, so that if parties don't provide expectations and land management requirements, as per your easement, legal remedy can be sought.
 
8)  Are my property rights (easement) at greater risk because of Bill 100We don't think so. By enacting Bill 100 there are real benefits to landowners. Trails will be defined, trails will be marked more clearly, and trail users, will be expected to adhere to landowner agreements. Once the easement is secured it is binding on both parties.
 
9) What happens if somebody doesn't do what we agreed?  If I sign off on an easement and the group I sign it off and someone doesn't do what they say in the easement. If the agreement is breached, then legal redress can be sought on or by the other party.
 
10)  Can I pull out of an easement after Bill 100?  You can, but as a landowner you don't want to be in a breach. Neither does the trail group, after all, you both negotiated the agreement. In a breach situation closing or nullifying your agreement would depend on a judge's decision.
 
If you have any questions about Bill 100 please contact the Ontario Trails Council, 613-484-1440 or email us at:  execdir@ontariotrails.ca We are here to help everybody have a better understanding of trails, trail use and management practice. Please read our paper on Bill 100 – it's available here -  http://goo.gl/yzlO0X
 

Ontario Trails Council contacts Media, distributes content to members and third parties
 

At Ontario Trails Council we've done more on Bill 100 this week. We've been on the phone with trail groups, landowners, the media and government officials. We've worked to clarify the issue, we were contacted on the weekend before the story broke big and we think we helped reduce the loss of trail through our effort. Please support this by:
  • Contact your MP and ask them to support Bill 100
  • Contact your Regional Trails Committee and ask them to support Bill 100
  • Send the OTC Press Release to area trail and landowners to clarify the issue
  • Most importantly - understand what the landowners concerns are and listen to them. If we respond as good neighbours they will understand trail folks are good folks
  • Talk to other trail users and tell them - don't trespass, respect private property - that saves trails!


Ontario Trails Council asks media  - please stop circulating incorrect coverage https://goo.gl/1YITa8
 
“Something that bothers me as a rural property owner is forced easement. If I have an agreement with my neighbour or snowmobile club that is exactly what it is, an agreement,” said Karen Mahon, a West Perth landowner. “An easement on the other hand is registered and runs with the land. You cannot get out of it. That is mentioned in Bill 100 and is easement law.”

Not forced. To continue to publish this is just wrong.

"But according to Elizabeth Marshall, the director of research for the Ontario Landowners Association, Bill 100 would lead private property owners into thinking they can allow trails across their property while retaining the right to shut those trails down. Shutting trails down that have been registered as easements under Bill 100 would not be as easy as it is through direct agreements, Marshall claimed."

There is no leading, this is a position the landowner can pursue of their own volition.

We request that media outlets stop publishing comments that are opinion and that are scaring landowners. The OTC has done interviews with these publishers clarifying our position, the Act and our go forward strategy, as well as getting our Press Release to them.

Know your easement and we are working with landowners to make sure the types of agreements are better understood and enacted by them.