Posted by Editor on 06/14/06
Government of Ontario To Ban Bicycles from Provincial Parks
Bill 11, the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act has been amended in such a way that it will effectively ban bicycles from Ontario provincial parks until such time as the Minister of Natural Resources passes regulations permitting existing cycling activities to continue. The amendment changes the word non-motorized in the existing legislation that allows park visitors to, "...travel primarily by non-motorized means...", to the word non-mechanized. Bicycles, though un-motorized and muscle-powered, are nonetheless mechanical. The Bill is now slated for third reading.
Janet O'Connell, Executive Director of BTAC notes that, "...the 11th hour amendment to Bill 11 ejects a most enthusiastic, supportive and active segment of Ontario provincial park users. The effect will be to disenfranchise a highly motivated demographic group of advocates that have been actively engaged in protecting green spaces throughout North America." Ms. O'Connell adds that, "Access to Ontario provincial parks and conservation areas for cycling builds a sense of pride and ownership in those parks. We want Ontarians to interact with the natural environment because through their interaction they gain a sense of the inherent value of the natural environment and the need for its conservation and preservation. Cycling is a healthy, environmentally friendly and sustainable way for that interaction to occur."
Scientific evidence from numerous jurisdictions that have undertaken systematic assessments of various land-use activities shows that mountain bikes ridden on designated trails have no more ecological impact than hikers. Paul Nielsen, President of BTAC remarks that, "Given what we know about the impact of bicycles of designated trails the public policy rationale for this amendment is perplexing", adding that, "The objective should be to get more Ontarians to enjoy parks and conservation areas and thus become their proponents and defenders, not less."
BTAC's position is that the language in the Bill should revert to the use of term "non-motorized". However, should the legislation be passed as currently drafted BTAC will be advocating that the regulations allowing existing cycling activities in provincial parks and conservation areas be enacted upon implementation of the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act.
ACT NOW! Before this bill goes to final reading on Monday (June 19th) in the Ontario Legislature contact your local MPP and ask them not to ban cycling from Ontario Provincial Parks.
Find your local MPP at: olaap.ontla.on.ca/mpp/daCurRdg.do?locale=en&ord=RDG_NAME
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