• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

The Oro-Medonte ORV Debacle

In Candidates / Election 2018
Aug 1st, 2018
Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock

Letter to the Editor from Allan Baker, Oro-Medonte

It seems that the thick fog which prevented Oro-Medonte Council from understanding the Off Road Vehicle By-law that they approved has finally cleared away and Staff have captured in writing the convoluted document.

Those who attended the Council meeting or who watched live streaming of it on the township website – www.oro-medonte.ca – Watch Council Meetings Online, witnessed bureaucratic bungling at its worst.

I offer this metaphor of the situation for your amusement: Upon the insistence of a single person, speaking on behalf of a small group of pleasure seekers, the Captain and Crew of the good ship Oro-Medonte took their residents on a cruise against their will. Shortly after departing the ship became engulfed in a heavy fog and lost direction. The same small voice assured the Captain that he knew the way and that it was safe. The Captain and some Crew members decided to forge ahead, again ignoring the loud protests of many residents and the fact that they were placing the ship itself at risk. When the fog cleared it became obvious that those who were then most in danger were the Captain and Crew, as the ship was heading for a huge waterfall called the Oro-Medonte Municipal Election 2018.

Council’s ORV debate on the taxpayer dime was a ridiculous performance which combined the 3 Stooges with some of Stephen Leacock’s infamous characters. The outcome, however, is no laughing matter as the By-law passed splits the township into two pieces; one protected from the intrusion of ORVs on municipal roads and the other allowing riders full access to the roadways under the guise that they are travelling to a non-existent trail network in the County Forests. In simple terms the By-law allows ORVs to use township roadways in 3 of 5 Wards, between specific hours and dates, and on a one-year trial basis starting Aug 7, 2018.

Although there is no written agreement, the ORV spokesman suggests that ORVrs will self-regulate through a network of road wardens who will report By-law offenders to the township and in turn to the OPP. Proper enforcement is assured to be difficult if not impossible given the area involved and allocation of OPP officers. The residents’ petition of opposition and deferral request were ignored. Make your voice count this time by VOTING in October.

5 Responses to “The Oro-Medonte ORV Debacle”

  1. Harry Hughes says:

    Allen Baker should be up front and let readers know the following:
    (i) He is the president of AWARE Oro-Medonte and is involved in an election campaign supporting AWARE candidates.
    (ii) The demeaning statements are targeting Council incumbents that AWARE’s candidates are challenging.
    (iii) Accurate, unbiased and complete information is available on the Township website https://www.oro-medonte.ca/community/atv-orv-information.
    (iv) The trial by-law was in response to residents wanting more regulation for the growing number of ARV illegally using roadways.
    (v) Input from residents was considered and incorporated in the by-law. Only about 30 of the 500 plus that wrote in wanting to maintain the status quo in their areas of the Township are accommodated. The trial expansion did not accommodate the 200 plus who wanted their areas included.
    (vi) The Township has permitted ORV’s in a portion of the municipality for more than a decade as have numerous other municipalities.
    (vii) The area of expansion with checks and balances, including improved enforcement was determined through meetings with three police officers including the Staff Sergeant, the specialist from SAVE and a police officer serving in Oro-Medonte. Categorizing these three well experienced officers and their recommendations as “the three stooges” is most inappropriate. So too, is the writing off of the services of the 50 “neighbourhood watch” volunteers, a number being former police officers.
    (viii) With the November 15th expiry date of the trial expansion, the option that council can revoke any or all of the by-law without notice and the timing of a changeover in council, the trial period is essentially a maximum of 3 months.
    Baker’s interpretation of the ORV trial by-law is just as flawed as his assertion that the Mariposa Bell sinking was a result of going over a waterfall that does not exist in the lakes that Leacock wrote about.

    • Allan says:

      Well, Harry I can see why you had so much difficulty understanding the By-law which YOU in effect passed, by breaking the tied vote between the other Council members. You also seem unable to separate the facts from the intended fiction in my letter. To help you out I’m going to respond to the misinformation that you would like to provide to the readers of this site:
      i) Fact – I am NOT the president of AWARE Oro-Medonte and that group to which I do belong, is NOT supporting AWARE candidates. We are advocating for change.
      ii) Fact – AWARE does not have candidates. The unspecified statements which you suggest – are demeaning and target Council incumbents – DO NOT refer to specific Council members. Again a difficulty you may have in separating facts from fiction.
      iii) Fact – Information on the By-law IS available on the Oro-Medonte website.
      iv) Fact – A request by residents for more regulation on ORVS illegally using roadways, if such a request exists, was never produced as part of the rationale for changing the existing By-law. Only a request by a small group of ORV owners who want to access a non-existent forest trail network.
      v) Confusion again. “Only about 30 of the 500+ that wrote in wanting to maintain the status quo in their areas of the Township are accommodated.”? If you’re referring to the Petition requesting the status quo, the number of residents who signed it exceeded 600 and if 30 were accommodated my math tells me that is 5% of those residents. And if by “accommodated” you mean prohibiting ORV roadway use in Wards 1 and 3, I suggest to you that the By-law proviso does not represent the wishes of the majority of residents who responded, and serves only to divide the Township residents. The 200 that you referred to “who wanted their areas included” seemed to use a form letter and many were farmers who are unaffected by this By-law in any event.
      vi) FACT – ORV roadway use has been permitted south from Hwy #11 to Lake Simcoe for recreational access to the lake – successfully – that is the ‘Status Quo’ option that residents requested to be continued. What other municipalities allow is not the issue here, we are residents of Oro-Medonte whose interests you were elected to represent.
      vii) More confusion. FACT – As SAFETY is a major concern, it’s only appropriate that police officers should be consulted, although it became clear from the information presented by them, that adequate enforcement of the By-law is going to be extremely difficult. My reference to the 3 Stooges was NOT as you claim, directed towards the police – a misinterpretation on your part. I was describing the confusion which dominated Council’s discussion during the meeting, but if the characterization is appropriate for some of those participants so be it. I also did NOT “write off” as you state, the proposed group of volunteers who hope to assist with enforcement. That proposal actually emphasizes the enforcement problem. Those misinterpretations are yours.
      vii) FACT – The By-law clearly states that the trial period for the expanded ORV area (Wards 2, 4, 5) begins at your request, on Aug. 7th, 2018 continuing until Aug. 7, 2019. The permitted Seasonal limitation is until Nov. 14, 2018, BUT permitted use resumes on April 16, 2019, until Aug. 7, 2019. The trial period is NOT “essentially a maximum of 3 months”. More confusion for ORV operators, officers and apparently you.
      Lastly, please read Leacock’s ‘Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town’. I did NOT assert that “the Mariposa Belle sank as a result of going over a waterfall”. In Leacock’s story, the ship only partially sunk as it ran aground on a reed bank. The good ship Oro-Medonte might likewise be saved but by a waterfall which I referred to in my metaphor as our upcoming Municipal Election. I hope your apparent confusion between fact and fiction in my letter does not extend into Township business.

  2. Harry Hughes says:

    Mr. Baker please help us by clarifying the following:
    (I) Are any of the candidates that your group is supporting in the upcoming elections individual(s) who resigned from AWARE prior to filing?

    (II) Why is it that you would believe, and have the impression, that farmers would sign a petition requesting permission for something that they as you have stated “are unaffected by this By-law in any event”?

    (III) Will you publicly post all the names of all the members of AWARE, both for transparency and to avoid the possibility of future missunderstanding This woud align with leadership by example?
    (III) Is use the of language directed towards the person, such as referring to anyone as “3 Stooges” rather than focusing soley on the merits of the issue one of the changes that your group is advocating”

    • Allan says:

      With all due respect Mayor Hughes, I don’t think your questions are deserving of an answer as all they serve to do is prolong your obvious confusion between my metaphor (please look up the definition) and the realities of the ridiculous Council meeting that it refers to. As to your comment requesting a demonstration of leadership and transparency, I am not a leader, I was under the impression that that was your responsibility. Lastly, I wonder why you have been for years and continue to be as exemplified by your questions, so pre-occupied with the AWARE group.

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