Port Sydney residents ask to have ATV restrictions lifted

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ATV restrictions don’t make sense for the village of Port Sydney say some area residents, and they’re hoping the Town and the District will consider lifting them.

“I believe we have lost sight that Port Sydney is a tourist community and always has been. It is not an urban centre,” Leon Braithwaite told Huntsville’s General Committee on January 24. He was there with Mike Fedorowich to appeal to councillors to reconsider the restrictions which leave local ATV users unable to access services and restaurants in the small community, and said they also believe it has an impact on tourism.

“We need to promote the retail sector in our area. Tourism is all that we seem to have left as a revenue generator,” said Braithwaite. “Please support our village and our struggling businesses.”

The pair also noted that where the ATV restrictions begin in the area, there is no parking and it’s unsafe to load and unload ATVs at those locations.

Director of Operations and Protective Services, Steve Hernen, said he looked back in town records and found that the council of the day directed staff to draft a bylaw permitting ATVs on municipal roads but not in urban areas which included Hidden Valley, Port Sydney, and downtown Huntsville. The District of Muskoka followed suit when they passed an ATV bylaw for District roads.

But Braithwaite called the restricted zone in Port Sydney “a dead area,” and noted that businesses like The Pine Lodge, which is under new ownership, that would like to attract ATV users can’t because of the bylaw.

Braithwaite and Fedorowich collected 164 signatures in support of having the restriction lifted and said that in going door-to-door to talk with neighbours in the community found that even some of those who weren’t ATV users supported the move.

Councillor Det Schumacher voiced support for the idea, saying, “Let’s give Port Sydney the opportunity to be rural again.”

Councillor Jason FitzGerald concurred: “To use (an ATV) to get to work or recreationally, to move from a residence to outside the area, or to use services, I think is a reasonable request.”

Others on committee weren’t so sure. “I’m not opposed to this, but I’d like to see some public consultation,” said Counciller Dan Armour, while Deputy Mayor Karin Terziano wondered if there would be more opposed than the 164 who signed in favour of the move.

Committee decided to seek public input on the matter, and directed staff to hold a public meeting during the next regular General Committee meeting.

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14 Comments

  1. With all due respect gentlemen, attracting more traffic from Off-road Vehicles to the downtown area / beach area will not increase tourism in this Scenic Village but it will keep visitors away. With all the available areas around I am amazed that you would encourage this kind of vehicle in an area of heavy pedestrian traffic in the Summer. The Risk to the Municipality would be enormous and the taxpayer would be on the hook for that. This is comparable to plunking a power generation unit at the Port Sydney Water Control Structure and the adjacent Tourist attraction. It doesn’t fit! To the Council members, you definitely need input from non-ATV owners and stakeholders of this Beautiful, Peaceful Village.

    • Oh goodness. Keep tourists away? Speaking only from my own experience and observation, any community encouraging this type of monitored legal activity has contributed massive economic rewards to almost all services attached to it.
      Opinions on personally supporting it will obviously differ, but using reduced tourism as weight to an argument to not allow it, just isn’t fact.

  2. Michael Fedorowich on

    Well Bill, that’s like saying no power boats in Mary Lake they make more noise and disrupt the beach area plus clutter up our beautiful waterfront. Do boats in Mary Lake keep tourists away??
    The District opened up all their roads to ATV traffic and the town of Huntville Council closed them.
    Baysville, Dorset, Port Carling, Bala, and parts of Gravenhurst are all open to ATV traffic, in support of another sport as directed by the Province of Ontario to encourage Tourism in our area.

    • Michael…
      Your comment “The District opened up all their roads to ATV traffic and the town of Huntsville closed them.” is misleading. The effect of the District resolution was to open what ever District roads the local municipality agreed to open to ATV traffic. In Huntsville, Council decided to open all roads except those within the boundaries of urban serviced areas and built up communities. This was a trial period to determine if there were any significant issues and if it would work to expand the areas open to ATV traffic.
      Your suggestion that the town of Huntsville has taken something away from you is incorrect.
      As with all changes to public policy, the town is eager to consult with members of the public. Thank you for starting the conversation about the possibility of opening up all roads in Port Sydney to ATV traffic.
      Scott Aitchison
      Mayor

      • Michael Fedorowich on

        Prior to the Town of Huntsville By-law restricting Atv use we used the roads to get to trails. Slow moving vehicle sign was put on atv and away we went no issues .Just like a tractor, bobcat, backhoe, loader or like the towns sidewalk machine that travels down South Mary Lake Road today and every day it snows from the firehall to Muskoka Road 10.All are considered off road vehicles
        Point that must be made ATVs are resticted to 20 KM/hr when in a 50 km zone so speed restriction makes this vehicle safer than a car or a worker wearing hearing protectors in a machine cab.

    • Mike I don’t own nor want to own any power boats and to compare ATV / OFF Road Vehicles to Lake usage is like crabs to cats…ATVs were and are built for off road usage and as potential work vehicles. Having them on/in an area were small children play and cross the road is a recipe for disaster. It seems that this request for paved road usage is probably for more convenience to local owners not tourists or potential tourist benefit.

      • Michael Fedorowich on

        Hey Bill you compared Atvs to a Hydro generation plant thats alot more crabby.
        As for Liability the District already has that covered, we are payng for it so might as well use it.
        Stop by Pine Lodge and have a talk with the new owner. Jimmy, if you want the real facts on tourism in Port Sydney.
        Jimmy needs all the help he can get as snowmobiles become less popular so lets help out our local businesses if we can.
        Snowmobiles are allow down the road and difficult to steer on wet sandy pavement,now there a accident waiting to happen.
        No children play on the paved roads in Port Syndney we have beaches and playground area.

  3. As an atv’er I make my plans based on how friendly a town is towards my recreational usage. I do not bomb around town at reckless speeds, it is no different than if I was to ride my Harley thru town. These are antiquated bylaws aimed at a younger crowd and apparently it’s easier to ban use than enforce proper use, I live in innisfil and we are atv friendly it has made my home area very enjoyable to live in. With road usage legal there is no reason for an atv to be on private property. Which seems to be be more of a problem, if a town doesn’t want atv use on there roads they should be mandated to add trails to assist the business in there community, anything else is unfair and unjust to local businesses. Our community master plan includes many walking and hiking trails and these users dont pay a plate fee.

  4. I am 62 and my husband 66 years old. We both have ATV. On our typical day ride we stop for lunch in a town, stop for gas when needed and at times book a hotel to spent the night eat and relax before we go out the next day. We are responsible riders enjoying our beautiful countryside and trail system. We do either by ATV, snowmobiles or seadoo. We treat them as mini holidays to enjoy throughout all season of the year. We live close to the Park to park trail and going through Parry Sound is needed and encouraged.

  5. Great move!
    Parry Sound did this on ALL roads a year and a half ago and is reaping the rewards of common sense. Huntsville and all the other towns should move to embrace these friendly people.

  6. At very least it would be nice to be able to allow ATV’s to a logical location where parking could occur; ie. the rapids. Where the signs are currently located seem to have been chosen arbitrarily. If this would occur, then people could walk into the beach strip across the bridge.

  7. The use of South Mary Lake Rd and Muskoka Rd 10 by ATVs should be allowed as there is no valid reason to prevent such access. I live along South Mary Lake Rd. and have no doubt ATVs can pass my house without causing me any duress.
    If council feels these roads should not be used by ATV’s to access gasoline, restaurants or connecting trails please encourage them to use the other way from the Muskoka Rd. 10/ River bridge to these facilities. (Oh, sorry … there is no other way).
    We need tourists and the jobs they create.
    Bill Rantz

  8. Richard Zdriluk on

    To say any community in Muskoka does not need any revenue for the introduction of ATV and UTV in their community is very short sited and narrow minded.

    My wife and I would love to be able to ride to a municipal-provide parking area close to downtown Huntsville for dinner or to do our shopping

    We are not asking to park downtown in front of the Town Hall only in designated parking lots where we could walk to the services we need to get what we want.

    All ATV drivers are licensed and insured and we must obey and follow the rules of the road the same as every driver of a power boat, jet ski, snowmobile, car and truck.

    Most of us are responsible operators and ride with our family and friends.

    Allowing ATVs would be a positive economic gain from the community.

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