FOCA publishes articles on occasion regarding issues related to private roads.
Municipalities have the authority to determine whether or not off-road vehicles (ORVs) should be allowed access to roads under their authority. Municipalities must put a by-law in place for ORVs to be allowed access to their roads. Municipalities can determine which roads, where on the road, time of day, and season that ORVs are allowed access. They can also set speed limits that are lower than those set out in the regulation. If a by-law does not exist, ORVs are not allowed access to that municipality's roads.
More information specific to municipal authority is available at www.e-laws.gov.on.ca, Statutes and Associated Regulations, Highway Traffic Act, Section 191.8.
by Don Payne, Chair FOCA Roads Advisor, from FOCA Report to the Membership, Fall 2004
ORV stands for Off-Road Vehicle and ATV stands for All-Terrain Vehicle. The 4 wheel ATV is just one of a number of ORVs which include 2 wheel dirt bikes, 3 wheel ATVs and other multi-wheel, powered vehicles that are operated for both recreational and business use.
As of July 31, 2003, new regulations governing the use of the 4 wheel ATV became law. They are aimed at the recreational user of the 4 wheel ATV who wishes to use them on Provincial Road rights-of-way, in the main being on 500-899 and 7000 series highways.
The regulations for the permitted 4 wheel ATVs are highlighted below. They:
•Must have 4 wheels, the tires of which must be in contact with the ground,
•Must use steering handle bars,
•Must have a seat that is designed to be straddled by a single driver,
•Are designed to carry only the driver and no passengers,
•Are allowed to travel on the shoulder of the road, but can move to the travel portion of the road if the shoulder is impassible or unsafe,
•Are not allowed to be operated in construction zones,
•Are not allowed to be operated on closed roads,
•Are not allow in a Provincial Park unless allowed by the park,
•Must have a weight of 450 kg (1,012 lbs) or less,
•Must have an overall width not greater than 1.35 m (4’5”)
•Must have proper brakes in good operating condition,
•Must have headlights, reflectors and brake lights if manufactured after January 1, 1998, and all must be in proper working order,
•Must follow all the safety requirements for windshields,
•Must have nothing that can obstruct the driver’s view in any direction,
•Must be owned by someone who has insurance,
•Must be operated only by someone who has a valid Class G2 or M2 or higher operator’s license,
•Must be operated only by someone who is wearing a helmet,
•Must be operated at a speed limit of 20 k/hr maximum in a zone not greater than 50 k/hr such as in a town,
•Must be operated at a speed limit of 50 k/hr maximum in a zone greater than 50 k/hr.
No person shall operate an ORV in such a way as to disrupt or destroy the natural environment including fish habitats, property and flora or fauna.
In addition to the above, there are many fines that can be laid including one for having a dirty license plate and one for failing to stop at flashing red lights. Criminal charges can be laid for driving while impaired.
While all of the above regulations apply only to provincial roads, each municipality will have its own by-laws to govern who and where and under what conditions ATV owners can operate their vehicles on municipal roads and property.
But what of private road owners and operators? Private road operators should consider the possibility that 4 wheel ATV operators who are operating under municipal by-laws and provincial regulations will travel, uninvited, down their road and thus increase the possibility of an accident that was caused by the condition of the road. To mitigate loss and liability, it would be prudent to erect a sign at the beginning of the road stating under what conditions ATV operators can use the road. It would also be prudent for all property owners on private roads to set out and agree to rules for the operation of any type of ORV on their road.
For more information the specific sections of highways are defined in the regulation schedules.
Please refer to: MTO Off Road Vehicles Legislation for details
or go to Frequently Asked Questions about Off Road Vehicles for a general overview.
Related Downloads and Links:Off Road Vehicles and Crown Land - MNR
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