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County of Wellington considers allowing off-road vehicles on county roads

Councillors have asked staff to prepare a draft bylaw for discussion at a future meeting
20210914 vehicles AS 1
Off road vehicles like ATVs are currently prohibited on county roads.

The County of Wellington is considering allowing off-road vehicles, like ATVs, side-by-sides, and off-road motorcycles, on county roads.

Currently six out of seven municipalities in the county allow off road vehicles on their township roads, but the rugged modes of transport are not permitted on county-owned arteries, which tend to have higher speeds and traffic volumes. In a report to Tuesday’s county roads committee meeting, staff recommended things stay that way.

“The current ORV prohibition on county roads is effective, reduces liability and helps to facilitate the safe and efficient use of the county road network,” the report said. 

Puslinch Mayor James Seeley disagreed. 

“As far as I’m concerned I feel that they should be allowed on county roads. It’s a non-issue,” Seeley told the committee, noting as the southernmost municipality in the county, Puslinch likely has some of the busiest roads. 

Current regulations, Seeley said, puts riders in a position where they can get a tickets just for driving from their home to nearby trails on a neighbour’s property, something, he said, they're already doing safely.

Jeff Duncan, councillor for the town of Erin, echoed those comments. 

“I can’t get my head around legally how you can ride your bicycle in the lane of traffic on a county road but you can’t have an ATV on the shoulder,” he said. 

The staff report recommended if council wanted to lift the prohibition on off-road vehicles on county roads, a detailed study, costing approximately $25,000, should be undertaken to “provide a comprehensive approach and bylaw.”

Seeley said he was “comfortable” asking staff to bring forward a draft bylaw approving ORVs on county roads without completing the study.

In tandem with preparing the draft bylaw for discussion at a future meeting, councillors directed them to also ask the OPP for their feedback on the matter.

Erin, the only Wellington County municipality where off-road vehicles aren't currently allowed on township roads, is considering changing its rules. 

Councillors directed staff to wait for Erin's decision before bringing forward the draft bylaw. 


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Alison Sandstrom

About the Author: Alison Sandstrom

Alison Sandstrom is a staff reporter for GuelphToday
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