Evansville man lobbies for change to ATV laws

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

EVANSVILLE—Ed Wright is lobbying the Burpee-Mills Township council in hopes it will consider its own motion to allow the use of side-by-side vehicles on town roads, similar to a motion recently passed by the Township of Prince and one currently up for consideration in the Sault Ste. Marie. And it appears council is listening.

“We are looking at a motion bylaw to allow these type of four-wheelers all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on township roads,” said Ken Noland, reeve of Burpee-Mills. He noted that Mr. Wright, a town resident, brought the matter to his attention.

“I’m talking about the side-by-seat vehicles that has seatbelts and roll bars,” Mr. Wright explained. “Right now, they cannot legally be used on roads to get to trails. I have heard other municipalities, such as Sault Ste. Marie, are working on bylaws that would allow them to be used on municipal roads.”

The Highway Traffic Act currently does not permit side-by-sides to access the shoulder of roadways to get to trail systems. However, it does allow four-wheel ATVs, with steering handlebars and a seat that is designed for a driver only, the right to drive on that same shoulder of the roadway. Despite research that shows the newer, side-by-side vehicles are safer than the traditional ATV, legislation doesn’t allow them on roads.

“I phoned Ken (Noland) and told him about this,” Mr. Wright explained. “He thought they were already legal, but they aren’t and that is what I would like to see, here and around Manitoulin. In our township alone I know of between 10-12 people that have bought these vehicles, but they can’t use them on roads.”

Prince Township and the City of Greater Sudbury have established bylaws that allow similar four-wheelers to travel on some local roads. This issue has been a focus of Mr. Wright’s for quite awhile—he pointed out he had previously discussed this issue with former Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Brown’s office. “I was told a change in legislation was in the process, but it hasn’t been changed so far,” he said.

“My understanding is this type of vehicle is not allowed to be used on roads under the laws right now,” said Mr. Noland. “And, as Ed (Wright) said, people can be charged for running these vehicles on municipal roads. He wants this issue to be forwarded to the MMA (Manitoulin Municipal Association), to lobby to have this changed. I also thought I would get our CPAC (Community Police Advisory Committee) rep to take it to that group’s next meeting.”

Mr. Wright said he was glad the reeve was willing to take the issue forward.

“I think we need to jump on this and get all of Manitoulin Island involved in getting bylaws changed in the municipalities to make them legal on roads,” he said.