Collections of stories and anecdotes of ATVing in Canada by Andrew Ryeland of 




Special to the Parry Sound North Star October 8, 2003
- Andrew Ryeland  


After what seems like decades, the Government of Ontario has amended the Highway Traffic Act to recognize the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) as a legitimate vehicle.  There are restrictions and conditions, but in many parts of Northern Ontario ATVs are now permitted to drive on the shoulders of Provincial Highways.  

What Highways? 

Schedule B of Ontario Regulation 316/03 lists 7 full pages of ‘Highways Permitted to All-Terrain Vehicles’.  With some restrictions the following highways in our area are now open to ATV traffic:  

  • All secondary and tertiary highways numbered 500 to 899 
  • All of the King’s highways known as No. 105, 125, 127, 130 and 141 
  • Part of the King’s highway known as No. 60 
  • Part of the King’s highway known as No. 124 
  • Highways within Provincial Parks or public parks if the road authority or governing body of the park permits the operation of off-road vehicles in the park 

This Ontario Regulation does not cover municipal roads.  


Ontario Regulation 316/03 is very specific about what ATVs and their drivers must be and do in order to use the permitted highways.  Here are just a few of the highlights: 

·         "All-terrain vehicle" means an off-road vehicle that, has four wheels, the tires of all of which are in contact with the ground, has steering handlebars, has a seat that is designed to be straddled by the driver, and is designed to carry a driver only and no passengers 

·         Drivers must be licensed, wear an approved helmet 

·         The ATV must weigh 450 kilograms or less, shall not be wider than 1.35 meters, must have low pressure bearing tires, meet Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations prescribed for restricted-use motorcycles, have approved braking systems and lamps and reflectors and stop lamps, be properly insured. 

·         Several Rules of the Road are defined that deal with road shoulder driving, passing, turning and highway crossing 

All in all this is great news for ATVers.  Not that we want to ride the highways of Ontario but there is now a legitimate method of travelling from one trail system to another and avoiding private property and sensitive ecological areas.  Links can now be considered between two riding areas that were previously closed to ATV traffic.  In addition there is now a Provincial template for Municipalities on which to base their access decisions. 

From a tourism perspective, this Ontario Regulation 316/03 widens the opportunities for the economic harnessing of the hugely popular sport of ATVing.  Responsible application of this regulation and professional marketing and economic development of trails and services in our region will yield substantial benefits.  Ministry of Tourism studies have consistently valued the ATV tourism benefits to Ontario at $1 Billion per annum.  That just might put a smile on a lot of faces. 

For a complete look at Ontario Regulation 316/03 go to our website and click on the link to the e-laws website at the top of the page.