Action needed: MTB potentially being dissallowed in Ontario Provincial Parks-
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  1. #1
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    Oct 2005

    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead! Action needed: MTB potentially being dissallowed in Ontario Provincial Parks

    I just caught wind of this. This underlines why we need to be organized,
    not just at a municipal level, but at a provincial one. It also
    underlines why we need to be politically active. Fortunately we are
    starting, I hope we don't have to clean up this mess for the next 10 year.

    First read the Pedal article

    Then read the following from IMBA Canada.


    Legislation affecting recreational uses on millions of acres of
    wilderness parks and over 300 conservation reserves - including trails
    used by Ontario mountain bikers is being voted on this week. The Ontario
    government has been fast tracking Bill 11 through Committee and is
    prepared to proceed to third reading and a final vote before the
    weekend. Thanks to a timely and collaborative effort between the Ontario
    Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Shimano Canada Ltd. and the Shimano
    law firm of Lang Michener, additional last-minute changes were made to
    the Bill which authorize the Minister to make exceptions with respect to
    travel by a mechanized means and allow existing uses to continue.

    IMBA Canada is involved in monitoring the progress of Bill 11 and will
    continue to work with groups that seek to preserve access to Ontario’s
    Parks and Conservation Reserves, and to work actively with government to
    ensure that mountain biking continues as a sustainable use of public lands.

    Full story:

    IMBA Canada wants to record your comments on bicycle access in Ontario.
    Please send your comments to [email protected] with the subject heading

    -- end IMBA announcement

    Now we all need to call or email our MPP and let them know that this is
    a bad idea. Not only is it not based on science, but it is a bad idea
    from a recreation, and tourism point of view. With the "epidemic of
    obesity" that our society is undergoing a decision such as this is very
    unwise. This approach also flies in the face of the steps that
    organization both in the US and at the National level in Canada are
    approaching the situation of mountain biking on their lands.

    Contact your MPPs and let them know your thoughts. Regardless of whether you voted for them, or voted at all, they are supposed to represent you concerns, them know what they are.

    Here is a list of all the MPPs. Find yours. If you're not of voting age, get your parents to call.

    And here is a list of resources from IMBA that point out why cycling
    should be allowed if hiking and other low impact uses are.

    This isn't only about cycling in the parks, this sets a very bad precident for retaining and gaining access at other levels of government as well. Don't take this lying down.

    Below is the letter I just wrote to my MPP and Minister of the MNR. Feel free to modify it and use it for yourself.

    Gentlemen I'm addressing you as an Ontarian and an avid cyclist.

    Mr. Arthurs I'm addressing this to yourself because I live in your riding.
    My current address is 624 Amaretto Ave, Pickering, ON.
    Mr. Orazietti and Mr. Ramsay I'm addressing this to you because this issue directly affects your ministry.

    It has recently been brought to my attention that Bill 11 is making its way through the legislature. There has been an amendment made to the Bill that changes the wording "... travel primarily by non-motorized means..." to non-mechanized.

    The impacts of this change are rather significant, and not limited to the cycling community. Will wheel chair bound individuals still be able to access the park? What about families who don't primarily cycle, but do have children that use their bikes while camping in the parks? Is there a problem with mechanized travel in the parks? If so perhaps there is a better solution than outright banning these forms of travel.

    Cycling, specifically mountain biking, represents a growing activity. Most mountain bikers are in the 30-50 age braket, well educated, and have above average household income. The only numbers I have easy access to are from the US, but the trends are clear. A significant portion of your constituents are likely to be mountain bikers. I'm confident that BTAC (the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada) can provide numbers that are relevant here.

    This Bill, if passed as is, leaves only two options for a cyclist. If they can not ride in the provincial parks they will go somewhere else to ride. This will have an impact on the tourism of the communities that rely on the parks. The other option is that cyclists continue to ride in the parks in a renegade fashion. This will make a portion of park users illegitmate users.

    This latter possiblity would be a tragedy, especially considering the progress that other levels of government in Canada, and national levels of government in the US have made in embrasing the use of bicycles on their land. IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, has forged relationships with the big four land management organizations in the US. In Canada IMBA has engaged Parks Canada to allow cycling in National Parks. At a regional level, IMBA, through its affiliated clubs has established numerous cooperative arrangements with local land owners and land managers to not only permit cycling, but to allow cyclist to actively manage and maintain the land they use. We have been able to do this because we have demonstrated that cyclists are an active user group that has a similar impact on the environment to existing traditional user groups, and that we know how to be good stewards and caretakers of the land. This legislation would be a large step backward in promoting other trail uses, particularly one that is already accepted.

    I will be encouraging as many fellow cyclists as possible to contact their MPPs and the Ministry of Natural Resources to express their concerns. However, I have to point out that in my roles as an IMBA representative and a president of a local mountain biking club I am speaking for more than just myself.

    We can not support this change in the proposed legislation. The language in the Bill should revert to the use of the term non-motorized rather than non-mechanized.

    Jason Murray
    DMBA President
    IMBA Rep for Durham Region
    Jason Murray
    Rep for Ontario, IMBA Canada
    Visit the IMBA Canada site to keep current on all things IMBA in Canada.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Oct 2005

    Good job! Clarification on Bill 11

    The following is from the OCA site.

    Clarification on the Ontario Governments plan for Bicycles use in Provincial Parks


    Steve Merker, OCA Executive Director, spoke with Robert Moos (Strategic Planning Officer for Ontario Parks) on the topic of bicycle use in Provincial Parks. Here is what was clarified.

    Government of Ontario may ban bicycles from a small percentage of "Wilderness Designated" Provincial Parks. Concerns have been expressed by the International Mountain Biking Association and BTAC that Bill 11, the proposed Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserve Act, would ban mountain bikes and wheelchairs in Ontario's provincial parks. Some people may have been left with the wrong impression.

    Bill 11 was introduced last fall in Ontario's Legislature. It included a new objective for wilderness class parks that said in part: "visitors travel primarily by non-motorized means". Many people assumed the Ministry were going to open up wilderness parks to motorized use – which was not the intent -- and they asked the Ministry to include the current, more restrictive objective in legislation. Note that the eight Wilderness parks in question are mostly very remote and in fact many are only accessible by canoe or airplane. IE north of Thunder Bay. The closest one that people will be familiar with is a portion of Killarny.

    Consequently, an amendment was proposed to Bill 11, to reinstate the wilderness class parks objective that has been in place since 1978. The objective says in part that "visitors travel by non-mechanized means". A second amendment was proposed to allow the Minister to approve exceptions to the "non-mechanized" provision. This would allow current policies – which do allow limited mechanized and motorized use in wilderness parks – to continue, even though the legislated objective could be interpreted as banning such uses entirely.

    The government tabled both amendments with the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly and both were subsequently approved by the Committee.

    Bill 11 would not ban mountain bikes and wheelchairs in Ontario's eight wilderness parks. And to clarify, Bill 11 would not impose such restrictions on the 311 parks that are not wilderness class, or our 280 conservation reserves. Policies and regulations will guide what activities take place in provincial parks and conservation, as is now the case. What Bill 11 will do is help ensure these treasured areas are protected for future generations.
    Jason Murray
    Rep for Ontario, IMBA Canada
    Visit the IMBA Canada site to keep current on all things IMBA in Canada.

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