Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller has sought to allay trail closure concerns this week by addressing the changes that Bill 100 will bring if passed into law. He did so in the following letter to the editor (see below).
To the Editor,
With the passage of Bill 100 through second reading, there has been renewed interest at my office regarding the Supporting Ontario’s Trails Act. I would like to take this opportunity to provide some insight as to where Bill 100 stands in the legislative process, as well as potential implications as it moves forward.
As of April 14th, 2016, Bill 100 has passed 2nd reading and is currently before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
First off, I would like to say that we are fortunate to have some of the best trails in the Province of Ontario. Every year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts travel to Parry Sound – Muskoka to hike, bike, ski, ride, and snowmobile. For decades, this network of trails has been maintained and grown through relationships between trails organizations and private landowners. I would like to thank the private landowners that allow trail use across their property.
These personal and often informal agreements to allow for trail access across private property are part of the local success story. These agreements will not be affected by the passage of Bill 100.
Even though the snowmobile trail season has ended for this winter, there is already concern that misinformation about the easement section (12) of Bill 100 could lead to trail closures next year.
I have spoken personally with Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, Michael Coteau on this and he has provided in writing that: “An easement pursuant to Bill 100, if passed, would be a voluntary agreement between a landowner and an eligible body or bodies. No property owner would be compelled to provide an easement unless they agreed to do so”. During my allotted time to speak to Bill 100 at second reading I specifically asked that this statement be put into the Bill as landowners have requested.
To be clear, this is all voluntary. No property owner will be compelled to provide an easement unless they agree to. Also, Landowner rights are strengthened in Bill 100 with the following changes:
Maximum fines for trespassing are increased from $2000 to $10,000, and the current $1000 cap on damages caused by trespassing is eliminated thus allowing for greater fines when warranted. There is also a reduction and clarification of liability for the property owner.
If there are any questions regarding the progress of Bill 100 or if you have any individual concerns to add, please do not hesitate to contact my office. The full text of my remarks during 2nd reading debate of this bill can be found at www.normmillermpp.ca.
Norm Miller, MPP Parry Sound – Muskoka