On crisp, blue winter days the lure of driving all-terrain vehicles along country roads, with wind and snow in your face is enticing. And on almost all of the roads in Lanark County, recreationalists can do this.
But not in Perth.
“Perth doesn’t allow it at all,” says Councillor Jim Boldt, and this is something he’d like to change. Under the current bylaw, you have to trailer your ATV outside the town limits before climbing on to drive.
Boldt wants staff to bring a recommendation to council to look at a peripheral network of roads on the outskirts of town allowing ATV drivers to go out their back door, hop on their vehicles, and go. He’s hoping this might morph into an even more relaxed position where ATVs would be allowed in the more central part of Perth as well.
“ATVs and side-by-sides contribute billions to local economies,” Boldt says, commenting on a recent Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council paper released in November 201. The paper reported that in 2015, Canadians spent $6.9 billion on activities directly involving ATVs and recreational off- highway vehicles (ROVs), also known as side-by-sides.
Boldt suggests, “By loosening the rules a little, there’s potential for financial spin-offs to the town.” This is as long as, he qualifies, drivers don’t go off the possible agreed upon peripheral roads.
Most highways in Lanark County permit ATVs under the Highway Traffic Act, except Rideau Ferry Road (County Road 1) from Wild Life Road to Scotch Line Road in Perth, and Scotch Line Road (County Road 10) from Conlon Drive to Rideau Ferry Road in Perth. There are other exceptions in Carleton Place and Almonte.
Mayor John Fenik, on the other hand, doesn’t want ATVs or snowmobiles “transversing town streets. [The streets are] too narrow. It wouldn’t work,” he says.The [staff] recommendation will be to look at external roads and how they hook up out of town, he confirmes.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, an off-road vehicle shall be driven on the shoulder of the highway in the same direction as the traffic using the same side of the highway (with some exceptions). Under the County of Lanark bylaw, there is a curfew in effect for ATV drivers from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. seven days a week when driving on highways is not permitted. The local municipalities in Lanark County include Beckwith, Carleton Place, Drummond/North Elmsley, Lanark Highlands, Mississippi Mills, Montague, and Tay Valley as well as Perth in an area of 2,979 sq. km.
Eric Cosens, director of development and protective services, says in an email “staff will be asked to prepare a report on the movement of ATVs between the surrounding Townships that may involve travelling through Perth.” His understanding is “this most likely involves vehicles travelling along Rideau Ferry Road or the Scotch Line Road and potentially accessing the Shell station for fuel. It may also involve similar connections along the Highway 7 corridor. Since there needs to be a bylaw permitting ATVs to use town roads, the town may need to pass such a bylaw for those periphery road networks but [the town] will need to complete the technical investigation before the need for a By-law can be determined.”
First published in March edition of Hometown News.