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Ban of commercial services on Millennium Trail goes to council

Councillors agree with municipal recommendations to clarify that no commercial services will be allowed on the Millennium Trail’s 49 km from Carrying Place to Picton.

There are no changes to the bylaw that goes for approval to council’s June 13 meeting other than the amendment to exclude vehicles being operated on the trail as part of a commercial enterprise, and clarifications of trail uses.

Recreational uses would exclude services or commercial activities that are provided on the premises of the trail that are rendered for a fee or for the benefit of a commercial entity. This includes, but is not limited to tours, guides, vendors, sale of goods or other services provided by a person or representative of a commercial organization.

This exclusion does not apply to rented vehicles authorized for use of the trail and personally operated by the renter, or to special, infrequent, temporary activities such as charity events, filming, or military drills that may be authorized under a municipal occupancy permit. Access continues for police, emergency vehicles and farm tractors.

Hearing “chatter” in the community about a new venture inviting people to off-road in a six-person 4×4 along the Millennium Trail to favourite wine, cider and brewery stops, council in April asked municipal staff for a report on rules and uses of the Millennium Trail.

The report, by Arryn McNichol, director of corporate and legislative services, and Albert Paschkowiak, environmental services and sustainability supervisor, was presented at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

The report further defines “recreational activities”, documents concern regarding speeding and other issues raised by trail users and the Prince Edward County Trails Committee. It also recommends public consultation take place over the 2024 season to inform potential future amendments to the trail bylaw to be presented to council early in 2025.

The trail’s property was acquired by the County from the Canadian National Railway in 1997 and is a re-purposed, abandoned rail line spanning 49 km from Carrying Place at County Road 64 to Picton at County road 49, passing through Consecon, Wellington and Bloomfield along the way. Its ongoing maintenance is through the volunteer PEC Trails Committee.

It is used by cyclists, hikers, snowmobilers, all-terrain vehicle riders, and cross-country skiers. Over time it has seen uses by golf carts, horses, bikes, by charity events and tours, as well as military drills or other non-intrusive, infrequent uses under a municipal consent or occupation permit. Staff note they are not aware of any commercial tours using the trail, and none have been expressly authorized by the municipality.

Staff did consider a licensing system but did not recommend due to challenges related to monitoring and enforcement, compliance by operators and balancing needs of residents and tourists. The report also notes council could limit the size of vehicles allowed on the trail but also lists related disadvantages.

Under the current bylaw, individuals are responsible for their own use of the land, but as a municipal property, the report notes there is always “some degree of liability the municipality carries as it would with any publicly accessible lands or buildings”.

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  1. B Wilder says:

    “Staff note they are not aware of any commercial tours using the trail…”. The ‘Zip n Sip ‘ wine tour by ATV using the Trail website is still up today May 31.

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