By Mike Anderson

On May 29, council approved a staff recommendation to extend the Town’s Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Pilot Project into next winter.

The project will run from December 15, 2024, to April 15, 2025, allowing off-road vehicles, like ATVs, to use Town roads within the Waterfront Park Buffer Zone (WPBZ), which includes the entire shoreline and Town roads in lakeside neighbourhoods, to access Lake Simcoe for ice fishing.

It also includes Town roads in the Ward 5 catchment area, bordered by Park Rd, Old Homestead Rd, Weir’s SR, Ravenshoe Rd, Lakeridge Rd and Highway 48, to cross Highway 48 to access the lake or rivers.

According to the staff report, warmer weather hampered this year’s pilot project by restricting the number of off-road vehicles that could access the lake.

As a result, YRP and the Town’s municipal bylaw officers observed fewer ORVs on Town roads than expected.

“Extending the pilot project would give staff another opportunity to collect data and evaluate the program with the hopes that the weather would be more favourable for ORV use,” the report reads.

Still, according to the report, the lack of complaints indicates that most ORV users were riding in compliance with the bylaw’s provisions, which include driving 20 km per hour when the stated speed limit is 50 km or less.

YRP also reported that all the ORV users they stopped within the WPBZ and Ward 5 Catchment Area were riding in compliance with the Highway Traffic Act and ORV bylaw.

While the pilot project excludes dirt bikes, the report says they continue to be used illegally on Town roads. Nine of the 16 complaints received about violations of the ORV bylaw were about dirt bikes.