In May 2015, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Michael Coteau, introduced a bill:
• to increase awareness and encourage use of Ontario trails;
• to enhance trails and trail experience;
• to recognize the contribution that trails make to quality of life; and
• to protect trails for today’s and future generations.
Bill 100, known as the Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act, became a concern for landowners and trail stewards. The section of the bill regarding establishment of easements to protect the trails for future generations caused alarm.
At the time the impacts of the bill and reasons for government interference were generally unclear. Advisory groups committed to protecting land rights recommended stopping the bill. Some Landowners felt it better to be safe than sorry and refused to let trails cross their properties.
After one year, much discussion and final amendments, Bill 100 was passed by the Ontario legislature on June 1, 2016. Today it is clear that the granting of easements by property Landowners to ATV, snowmobile and other clubs is on a voluntary basis only. In fact, most clubs, including Dufferin Grey ATV Club, prefer traditional Landowner Agreements and will not pursue an easement in any way.
Landowners can rest assured that their property rights are safe. However, if a Landowner needs that extra layer of confidence, make sure this clause is included in the Landowner Agreement: “the Landowner/Occupier by signing this Landowner Agreement is NOT requesting nor granting permission for a registered easement over designated premises.”
Bill 100 has been enacted as Chapter 8 of the Statutes of Ontario, 2016. The Bill enacts the Ontario Trails Act, 2016 and makes amendments to the Motorized Snow Vehicles Act, the Occupiers’ Liability Act, the Off-Road Vehicles Act, the Public Lands Act and the Trespass to Property Act.