The use of ATVs on Muskoka Lakes Township roads has been made permanent by council.
On Wednesday Muskoka Lakes Council made a 2016 temporary bylaw permanent which allows recreational, all-terrain and multipurpose vehicles to be used on township roads. The bylaw states that the vehicles should only be used to travel a short distance and are not permitted on highways.
ATVs have been allowed on township roads since a temporary bylaw was passed in 2016. The original bylaw was designed as a one-year trial to determine the safety and efficacy of allowing ATVs on township roads. Since its inception municipal staff says that there have not been complaints or obvious safety concerns that would give reason to not make the bylaw permanent.
Much of the discussion at council was questioning what types of vehicles would be allowed on the roads, specifically whether golf carts were permitted.
Councillor Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa questioned whether golf carts were permitted under the bylaw. She supported allowing golf carts as it would allow senior residents to safety visit their neighbours.
Director of Public Works Ken Becking stated that golf carts were permitted, but this was challenged by several councillors.
Nishikawa said the OPP, who enforce the bylaw, stated in 2016 that because they are not licensed golf carts did not qualify as an ATV. She also stated that the previous Director of Public Works had confirmed golf carts were not permitted in 2016.
Councillor Gordon Roberts, who requested that the bylaw be brought before council, agreed with Nishikawa. Roberts stated that he had discussed the issue with Chief Bylaw Enforcement Officer Robert Kennedy who agreed that they were not permitted. Roberts also gave a warning for residents to be aware that golf carts may not be permitted.
“For the public don’t go out and start driving your golf carts right now,” Roberts said.
Councillor Barb Bridgeman echoed Nishikawa’s concerns about the lack of insurance for golf carts. She stated that residents should be aware of their insurance status if golf carts become permitted for road use.
“As a public service for people who own golf carts really look into the insurance, because if they’re not licensed and they’re on the road, I don’t believe they’re covered,” Bridgeman said.
Mayor Harding stated the issue of golf carts as well as other potential vehicles including electric scooters, gas scooters and e-bikes would be decided later after further discussions by staff.
The bylaw was passed unanimously by council.
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