Ontario Trails Strategey Update
The Ontario Trails Stategy is currently being updated by the Ontario government. I am pleased that our current premier who is an active runner is setting her sights on being the "Trails Premier" and that consultations are now underway to ask trail users and maintainers for their perspective. Representatives of Hike Ontario have been encouraged to express an opinion and we have heard from some of them.
Ideas being passed around include:
Removing the right to sue for accidents that take place on or near trails when no admission charge has been made. This is common practice in New Zealand where they do not even sign waiver forms and has resulted in an explosion of opportunities to enjoy the out of doors.
Removing the Provincial Sales Tax on insurance for insuring trails. I personally view this as a tax that clubs and trail associations pay on a charitable donation to the people of Ontario as they get to use our trails for no charge.
Providing landowners with a tax credit for allowing trails and trail users to cross their land at no charge. By their generosity, they are providing recreation, nature conservation and health improvements to the people of the province. If property owners received a small financial reward for their contribution, I suspect we could get more trail off road as they may be lining up to allow us access to their land.
Allowing and encouraging trails to exist on public property, road allowances, former rail beds, under hydro lines, crown land, etc.
Where trails exist on public roadway, not placing impediments like charging for signage, etc. to be created.
Providing grants in order that volunteer trail organizations may hire staff and maintain some office space and communication means. I fear anaging demographic among trail association members and the technological changes that are influencing the young not to join as members of organizations threaten what is a magnificent system of interconnected trails.
If you have more ideas to contribute please send them to info@hikeontario. If you have time to contribute make an appointment with your local member of parliament as well as those politicians who are planning to run against them and educate them on what trail associations and hiking clubs need to stay vibrant.
We have a great moment in time to update and persevere in making the Ontario Trails Strategy a reality that works for pedestrian trail users.