Chestermere City Council and Community Peace Officers are working to establish lake access points for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) to use this winter.
Previously city council passed an amendment to the Traffic Bylaw, to run a pilot program allowing OHVs to use public roadways, giving residents more access to recreational activities.
“Administration requested that start dates and end dates be established for this pilot. However, this can be problematic, as these dates would be dependent on the thickness of the lake ice and weather conditions,” Peace Officer Sgt. Trever Bowman said during the Nov. 8 council meeting.
Sunset, Anniversary, and the Boat Launch would be used as lake access points for OHVs.
The access points would be closed off to the public until the city parks department can confirm the ice thickness is great enough to sustain the weight of an OHV.
When the ice is at a safe thickness, the pilot program would begin, until it’s determined the ice thickness is no longer safe, and the lake access points would be closed.
There is no additional cost expected with the pilot program, as the city parks department already measures the ice thickness weekly throughout the winter.
“By controlling these city access points until the ice is deemed safe, any OHV user choosing to use the lake surface prior to the opening of the access points would be doing so via alternative means and at their own risk. This would reduce any municipal liability and increase safety,” Bowman said.
Establishing lake access points is part of the work the city has done in amending the Traffic Bylaw to allow OHVs to use municipal roadways.
The Traffic Bylaw indicates the condition in which an OHV is allowed to be operated, minimum and maximum speed limits, and a prescribed route that the OHV is permitted to use.
Under the bylaw, all OHVs that use the city roads must have operational headlights, brake lights, taillights, and a muffler, be registered, insured, and have a visible license plate. Operators must have a valid driver’s license and wear the proper safety equipment.
OHV operators can use city roads with a speed limit of 50 km/h or less to get to the nearest lake access point or the closest service station to their residence.
Operators cannot travel on a roadway that exceeds 50km/h, except when crossing a road that is a higher speed limit, with the exception along Chestermere BLVD, between West Chestermere Drive and East Chestermere Drive.
OHVs are not permitted on pathways, sidewalks, school property, playgrounds, or recreational areas except for the lake.
When possible, OHV operators are encouraged to use alleyways or service roads instead of streets.
Going forward, the lake access point presentation will be brought back to council for review in December.
“Education is the key, this is a pilot, Residents will know if it gets out of hand the city can call the pilot off,” Bowman said. “Our goal is education first before enforcement.”