By Tom Collins
OTTAWA — Farmers should be aware that there is nothing in the province’s proposed Trails Act that benefits a property owner, said an Ottawa agricultural lawyer.
Kurtis Andrews spent about 40 minutes taking questions from a crowd of about 15 people at the Ontario Landowners Association (OLA) booth at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show on March 8. The OLA says Bill 100 misleads landowners and by allowing access to a snowmobile or hiking group through an easement, they effectively hand over their rights to that group. The bill is in second reading at Queen’s Park.
“I think one of the greatest concerns is whether this thing is going to have any automatic effect on property owners’ land where there is already a trail,” Andrews told Farmers Forum. “Nothing is automatic. However, there’s also nothing in this legislation that benefits the property owner in any way at all. From my reading of it, the sole purpose of it is to provide mechanisms for the government or these trail groups to take away the property owners’ rights.”
Andrews said the bill could also cause problems for snowmobile clubs.
“This legislation is going to rightfully instill fear in people and it may result in a situation where people are not going to allow snowmobile clubs to have trails on their property anymore,” he said. “There was some bantering about some ways to fix it. In my opinion, it should be scrapped.”