Snowmobilers will no longer be allowed to drive along the streets of Haliburton’s downtown core.
Dysart et al council passed a new snowmobile bylaw Jan. 28.
The bylaw restricts snowmobiles from driving on Highland Street between Cedar Avenue and Dysart Avenue, as well as Maple Avenue between York Street and Mountain Street. It also formalizes $200 fines for rulebreakers per offence.
Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy said the bylaw lays the groundwork for the municipality to better direct snowmobilers and avoid mishaps. He said the Jan. 25-26 was “pure pandemonium” with the number of sleds in town.
“The goal of this bylaw is to help everybody and make things better,” Kennedy said.
The bylaw allows for snowmobiles to cross roads in the restricted zone at right angles and to traverse other roads in Haliburton. The bylaw specifies snowmobiles are allowed in public parks or municipal land but prohibits them on sidewalks.
The bylaw also shows where snowmobilers can park. Daytime parking is available by the arena, the Head Lake Park parking lot and just before the restricted zone on Maple Avenue.
Overnight parking is also being set aside at Head Lake Park for snowmobilers. Kennedy said staff have worked to make parking amenable.
Haliburton County Snowmobile Association (HCSA) director of marketing John Enright said the new bylaw strikes a fair balance.
“It’s a great compromise,” Enright said. “The views of non-sledders have to be respected but the other side of the coin is the economic impact of our recreation and people have to have access to the town. (The bylaw) does both.”
Enright said the season has proven trying for the HCSA, with rainfall and warm weather making for poor trail conditions. Land-use disputes have also arisen to close some trails, which the HCSA is trying to address.
Incidents of misbehaviour have also been highlighted. Kennedy posted a picture on Facebook Jan. 25 of a snowmobiler driving on the wrong side of the road on Maple Avenue, over a sidewalk.
“HCSA and the municipality working hard to make Haliburton snowmobile friendly,” Kennedy wrote. “Not helping folks.”
“We have weather challenges. We have land-use changes and closures,” Enright said, adding it has frustrated members of the HCSA.
Despite the downtown getting closed off, Enright said the association has plenty of trails riders can use.
“It’s not a heartbreaker,” he said. “We have 375 kilometres of trails in three municipalities.”
Mayor Andrea Roberts said the parking setup should work well for snowmobilers and the municipality still wants them to come through.
“We need the business. We appreciate the business,” she said.