Council’s Committee of the Whole wants to put the brakes on any commercial use the Millennium Trail.
Multiple councillors received complaints from County residents about a post on Facebook advertising UTV wine tours on the Trail. Utility vehicles seat 6-8 passengers and are wider than the trail can comfortably accommodate, especially if traffic goes in both directions.
The trail, which spans 49 kilometres from Carrying Place to Picton, is a multi-use trail established in 2000 and enjoyed by countless walkers, cyclists, ATVs and snowmobilers. It is also a connecting link for farmers to access their fields.
Staff recommended an amendment to the current trail bylaw that would prohibit commercial uses. Their report documented concerns about speeding and crowding.
Use of the trail by local businesses poses environmental and safety concerns, user conflicts, maintenance and infrastructure challenges, and would negatively affect the recreational experience.
Councillor Phil St-Jean asked for a clarification about the scope of the amendment. “You are not recommending any changes to the current trail bylaw other than what’s related to commercial uses of the trail, correct?” he asked. “The restriction on commercial use does not apply to someone who rents ATVs, snowmobiles, bikes, or horses? The bylaw doesn’t prevent a person taking rented vehicles or animals on the trail, it just prevents someone using the trail for their own business purposes?”
Arryn McNichol, Director of Corporate and Legislative Services, confirmed St-Jean’s understanding of the bylaw changes.
“The intent is not to prevent people from renting a bike or an ATV and taking that on the trail. The intent is to prevent somebody who is using the Millennium Trail in their business plan,” said McNichol.
Councillor Bill Roberts noted there is a real need for the enforcement of the current bylaw. “I have to say, with ATVs and motorcycles — which are not permitted — it’s like a NASCAR track out there sometimes,” he said. “Once that NASCAR goes by we then have a big prairie dust storm. I don’t know if enforcement is working…it is a problem.”
There is Millennium Trail bylaw signage at six intersections of the trail and on its major thoroughfares. It is enforced via a complaint system operated by the County’s Bylaw Services Department, with help from the OPP as well as Conservation Officers employed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).
The staff report noted that infractions were difficult to enforce as the trail is not regularly monitored.
The Committee of the Whole approved the amended bylaw, which now comes to Council June 13.
Staff also recommend public consultation on Millennium Trail usage over the 2024 season with results to come to Council in the first half of 2025.