The Rideau Lakes ATV (RLATV) Club has asked for permission to use some Smiths Falls streets to help connect two ATV trails.
At a March 13 Smiths Falls Committee of the Whole meeting, RLATV Club president and trail coordinator Rick Gilfillen made a pitch for town council to approve a land use agreement allowing ATVs to pass through Smiths Falls to connect the club’s 22-km trail system to the 296-km Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail (OVRT).
The portion of the OVRT that is closest to Smiths Falls ends in Montague Township at Sturgess Road. “We would like to connect our trail system through Smiths Falls, allowing ATV riders to access local amenities and attractions,” said Gilfillen.
The club’s proposal would see the town pass a bylaw agreeing to let ATVs use about 1.5 km of town streets, including Ferrara Drive, Abbott Street, and William Street West. The proposed route would cross the Abbott Street bridge.
Councillors John Maloney and Lorraine Allen expressed concern that ATVs might impede traffic on the bridge.
“We probably will rely on a staff report to advise us about traffic patterns,” said Mayor Shawn Pankow.
Gilfillen said ATVs using the trails must be licensed and insured, and are allowed to travel no slower than 20 km less than posted speed limits.
Councillor Dawn Quinn said the prospect of having more people travelling through town could provide an economic boost. “I see this as a good thing,” she said.
Smiths Falls Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris commented that several trails converge on Smiths Falls, “so we think there’s a tremendous tourism opportunity there.”
The ATV club’s request will receive further discussion after town staff complete a report.