Bracebridge postpones review for new ATV boundaries
Bracebridge Council agreed to hold off on a staff review to consider changing new ATV boundaries, in the May 10, 2023, meeting.
The Town received a 24-page petition submitted by Town resident, Mike Owczarek, on April 16th that contained 236 signatures in favour of relocating the existing boundary of ‘no ATV use’ from highway 11 to Cedar Lane and Taylor Road north, for access to amenities such as food and gas.
On May 2, 2023, it was initially agreed by the General Committee that staff would do a review about the feasibility of the request and report back about findings in July, however, Council didn’t believe this was an issue that could be dealt with in the short-term.
Concerns by Council members included issues such as the area being too congested to add more motor vehicles to the mix.
Deputy Mayor, Brenda Rhodes, expressed that allowing ATVs in this area isn’t in line with the Town’s “vision for the future” with a focus on more active transportation, and that it would be contrary to objectives already planned. She added, “By starting to open up the urban core with ATVs I believe that we’re going backwards in time, rather than forward and creating these communities that we want.”
Councillor, Debbie Vernon, suggested that the increase of ATVs would also be contrary to the Town’s Climate Action Plan. She said, “We’re in a climate emergency. We have to reduce greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030. That’s just around the corner.” She added, “Why would we be adding more gas-powered vehicles into transportation when we’re trying to encourage people to get an electric bike and to electric cars?”
Councillor, Barry Hammond, indicated, “There’s no difference between an ATV, three-wheeler, and motorcycle, and people may replace driving a truck into town. So, I don’t see it as increasing modes of transportation.”
Councillor, Barb McMurray expressed concern about e-bikes. She said, “E-bikes are excluded from a lot of cities right now because of stability and dangers of them.”
McMurray also advised that in 2011 the Town did a trial run to see how well ATVs would work, and that there haven’t been any complaints or issues when people use them where permitted. The tickets issued by the OPP to people on Cedar Lane were because they weren’t supposed to ride them in that area.
Given the complexity of considerations about this request, Councillor, Don Smith, suggested the matter be included in the 2024 Business Plan, which would allow the Town more time to consider it more comprehensively and inclusively.
Mayor, Rick Maloney, concurred that if the matter were included in the Business Plan it would allow for broader feedback. He said, “We gather up all the suggestions over the last 365 days and review that Business Plan and approve the Business Plan accordingly.” He clarified that it meant the item could be considered, but that it’s not “locked into the Business Plan.”
Smith said, “I’m sure there will be other ideas that come forward between now and when we do the Business Plan,” including discussions with Council and the community, which will provide additional information to staff. He added, “Then we can decide how we want to go forward. It gives everybody a chance, rather than just rushing into something that we’re sort of not quite sure where we’re going.”
The Town Clerk, Laurie McDonald, confirmed the petition request will be included when the item is considered for the Business Plan.