The days of Wild West ATV and snowmobile use could be numbered.
The city wants to start patrolling the greenbelt by ATV and snowmobile this fall to clamp down on users who break the law.
It already monitors these trails during the summer, but is limited in what it can do; the bicycle constables who currently patrol the city can’t issue tickets and are easily outpaced by ATV users, say city officials.
Monday, the city votes on spending $35,000 to outfit their newly hired bylaw officer with an ATV, a snowmobile and a trailer.
“We’re trying to create a presence on the greenbelt … and to create a presence we need equipment to monitor the greenbelt,” said director of city administrative services, Robert Fendrick.
“We don’t anticipate high speed chases through the forest … we just want to investigate complaints and slow people down.”
The city hears several complaints about ATV and snowmobile misuse from frustrated residents each year, said senior bylaw services constable, Dave Pruden.
People going too fast, creating excess noise, ripping around neighbourhoods and causing damage to the vegetation in the greenbelt are some of gripes residents have, he said.
But patrolling the area will only work if people are handed tickets, said Councillor Doug Graham. He wants the city to take a more proactive approach to enforcement.
“ATVs and motorcycles are ruining the trails completely; you can’t walk on them anymore,” said Graham at Tuesday’s council meeting.
“When we catch people, we have to do something.”
It’s a feeling echoed by others on council.
“This is frustrating, we’ve got to have some teeth out there. It’s hard to stop ATVs causing problems,” said Councillor Dave Stockdale.
Currently, tickets aren’t handed out to ATV and snowmobile users who break the law, said Pruden.
Fines do exist, but a lot of people don’t even know about them, he said.
And the bylaws haven’t been updated in years.
“They still talk about miles per hour in them,” Pruden said.
The city recently hired a bylaw education officer who will patrol the area in the fall and educate people who break the law.
Once a sufficient amount of education has been done, the bylaw officer will start doling out tickets, said Pruden.
This summer, the city’s two bicycle constables stopped 30 to 40 ATV users who were improperly operating their vehicles.
If the city votes in favour of purchasing the ATV and snowmobile, the money will come from capital funds initially set aside for a parking-enforcement vehicle.
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