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ATV ban stands as Hamilton Township council rejects proposal from riders

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

Hamilton Township chief executive officer Arthur Anderson presented a four-option report about permitting ATV riders on township roads Tusday tby passing a bylaw. The report including doing nothing. That is what council decided to do.VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

Hamilton Township chief executive officer Arthur Anderson presented a four-option report about permitting ATV riders on township roads Tusday tby passing a bylaw. The report including doing nothing. That is what council decided to do.VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland Today

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — All-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders will not be allowed to drive on Hamilton Township roads.

All but one councillor cited issues of legal liability and the possibility of the township being sued if council agreed to pass a bylaw permitting ATV road use as requested by the Northumberland District ATV Riders club at last July’s meeting.

A woman who only identified herself as not wanting ATVs on township roadways left the meeting with a smile on her face, saying she was pleased with council’s decision.

Not so with club president Mike Ainsworth, who said his members would “regroup” and come at the council decision from another angle in the future.

He stressed that whether a bylaw is passed by Hamilton Township council or not, it does not stop someone from suing the township in the event of an accident on the road.

Some ATVs use the roadways now, Ainsworth pointed out.

With information from the township’s insurer last week, plus a delegation opposing ATVers riding on roadways legally for safety reasons, a four-option report from township chief administrative officer Arthur Anderson was presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

The four options considered by Anderson ranged from doing nothing to passing a bylaw allowing ATVs on township roads.

At the end of discussions, council voted unanimously for the status quo.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act disallows ATVs on roads unless there is a municipal bylaw permitting them.

“This has been a big debate for me internally,” Coun. Pat McCourt said. She noted that on one hand ATVers unable to use roads “tear up fields” but insurance liability was the “tipping point” for her decision.

The high risk related to an insurance claim if the township were to pass the bylaw is why she voted against this, McCourt told council.
“Ratepayers have clearly told us they don’t support this,” Coun. Bill Cane said.

“The provincial government has passed legislation that puts the (onus) onto municipalities,” Deputy Mayor Gary Woods said, indicating that both liability issues and the need to maintain and log inspections about roads and shoulders pushed him to retain the status quo.

“It scares me to have a trial” and then an accident occur, Mayor Mark Lovshin said. “Our ditches are so deep in spots that there are no shoulders.”
He said that there is more road traffic in Hamilton Township hamlets than in neighbouring municipalities, and this too was a reason he would not agree to what the ATV club had requested.

“It’s a shame we can’t do it and come up with a compromise,” he said.

Calling for the vote, the mayor called it “unanimous” although it was not a recorded vote.

Coun. Scott Jibb voted against making any change but did not take part in the council discussion.

vmacdonald@postmedia.com

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