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Just in time for the upcoming summer holiday season, Ontario has passed new legislation designed to improve and protect the province’s trails system.

The new act, the Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act, 2016, act introduces a new piece of legislation, the Ontario Trails Act, 2016. The Ontario Trails Act, 2016 aims to (s. 1):

  1. To increase awareness about and encourage the use of trails.
  2. To enhance trails and the trail experience.
  3. To protect trails for today’s generation and future generations.
  4. To recognize the contribution that trails make to quality of life in Ontario.

It seeks to do so through a number of measures, including the introduction of a “Trails Week” at the beginning of June every year (s. 4(1)) and authority for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to create a trail classification system (s. 691)) and best practices (s. 7(1)). It also requires the Minister to maintain an Ontario trails strategy (s. 8(1)) and provides facilitates the voluntary granting of easements, with covenants, by landowners to certain eligible bodies for the purpose of creating and maintaining trails (s. 12).

The new Act also amends several existing acts: Motorized Snow Vehicles Act; Occupiers’ Liability Act; Off-Road Vehicles Act; Public Lands Act; and Trespass to Property Act. Among others, these amendments introduce stronger provisions relating to damaging Crown lands, including applicable higher fines and enhanced enforcement provisions.

The province’s trail systems is comprised of nearly 2,500 trails, traversing thousands of kilometres of rural, urban, remote, and even suburban terrain.

Happy trails!

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