Mono leading battle against letting ATVs on forest trails

July 23, 2014   ·   1 Comments

Over the last few months, the prospect of amending the bylaw in County forests to allow motorized vehicles use of trails has been a hot topic. While some favour the idea, nearly twice as many seem to be opposed and are asking Council to deny the request.

“Making a change like that would be inconsistent with the current goal of the county,” said Jim Phillips, a Mono resident who spoke at June’s County Council meeting. “It would cause safety concerns for most residents who utilize it, and would impact wildlife greatly, including endangered species which exist in some of the proposed areas.”

The proposal comes from the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders, who want the capability to gain access to County forests.  According to the OFTR, the riders who would be using the trails, at least as part of their organization, would not be noisy and disruptive.

“Involvement of the OFTR offers the forest with a number of positives,” wrote Dave Grummett, OFTR’s Executive Director. “It includes an organization that promotes responsible conduct. This includes the respect of other trail users and their rights. It includes promotion of low noise levels and observation of best practices for the environment.”

However, the fact that motorized vehicles of any kind still omit loud noise remains a deterring factor for some councillors and residents. Currently, hikers, cyclists, nature enthusiasts, walkers and horseback riders use the trails, all of which would face a disruption if motorized vehicles were allowed.

“The vast majority of visitation to public land is by quiet users,” said Mr. Phillips. “Off-road motor vehicles would compromise this. It’s well documented in areas that have legalized it that motorized vehicle users became the more prominent users because other users stopped taking advantage of the public trails.”

Terry Wagner, who also voiced concerns at County Council, says that in similar counties in the States where motorized vehicles have been allowed on public trails, the trails have been irreparably damaged.

“There are several jurisdictions who have allowed them and they have had such an enormous problem with ATVs and dirt bikes they’ve had to ban them completely,” said Mr. Wagner. “The damage done to the forests is irreversible. Logic seems to dictate if Americans’ state departments and studies conducted prohibit the use of vehicles in state parks, why are we considering this?”

While the damage is a valid concern that has been evident in other cases of allowing motorized vehicles, the proposal from the OFTR did not address how they plan to decrease damage, or whether there is a viable option that would prevent such irreversible damage to the forest trails.

At June’s council meeting, Mono’s representatives introduced a resolution to oppose the proposal to allow motorized vehicles both in County forests in their municipality as well as in the rest of Dufferin.

The motion read that “Council opposes the use of off-road vehicles within the two county forests located within the Town of Mono and requests that the County of Dufferin prohibit these uses in the Dufferin County Forest Plan 2015-2035,” and that “The Town of Mono suggests to the County of Dufferin that off-road vehicles be prohibited from using county forest properties in other county areas outside of Mono.”

They added however that if the prohibition was only reduced, the County should make sure vehicles are not bringing any form of foreign species into the forests.

“Failing that prohibition, council suggests that such vehicles only be allowed if they have been thoroughly washed and are free of wet or dried mud to reduce transfer of invasive species seeds.”

While Orangeville Council has not indicated which direction they intend to support, they welcoming thoughts from both sides in order to make the best decision for the County. Mayor Rob Adams explained that the challenge in supporting the proposal would be if valid answers are not provided regarding concerns presented by the public.

“I am open to hearing all suggestions around the County plan and I am currently open-minded on the subject,” said Mayor Adams. “I have had many concerns expressed to me over allowing motorized vehicles and the impact on the natural forest as well as area residents. Without these concerns being addressed in a meaningful way it may be hard to support the proposed changes.”

Although the decision is ultimately in the hands of the County, they are hoping current trail users, potential trail users and residents will participate in the discussion surrounding the proposal by submitting their thoughts to the County Forest Manager before July 31.

To voice concerns or submit any thoughts concerning the proposal, submissions can be sent directly to the County Forest Manager by email at

Readers Comments (1)

  1. mmxi says:

    If “Logic seems to dictate if Americans’ state departments and studies conducted prohibit the use of vehicles in state parks, why are we considering this?” then why does California have a “California State Parks, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division” which, according to their website, “reviews plans for new and expanded recreation areas applying for grant funds” and manages tens of thousands of acres of trail systems that are used both by motorized vehicles and non-motorized users? There are many shared multi-user areas around the US where all groups coexist happily and work together for the long term benefit of the environment.


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