Camping at TransCanada trail heads no more
GRAVENHURST - Some visitors to the Cooper’s Falls area of the TransCanada Trail have been overstaying their welcome, but now anyone caught doing so could be facing trespass charges.
A number of complaints from area residents and users of the recreational trail near Housey’s Rapids have come through local bylaw enforcement and the town offices this summer about camping there.
Kyla Bruce, the town’s parks and trails technician, said the trail, trail head and the municipally owned rough lot there for parking have been used as an overnight campsite on a number of occasions recently, but town bylaws had not previously addressed the issue.
“Several weekends this summer we had complaints from neighbours regarding municipal property being used for camping,” she said. The complaints were typically about noise from recreational vehicles, generators running, “dogs running, cutting trees for firewood and burning campfires,” she explained.
“In followup to the complaints it was realized that there are no bylaws prohibiting camping on municipal property,” Bruce added, saying town management and bylaw enforcement crafted one to prevent any more like occurrences.
The bylaw, which council did approve during its meeting Aug. 7, prevents camping on or around the trail, including any parking areas associated with the trail that are owned by the municipality. This not only includes tents, trailers or recreational vehicles, but also sleeping in one’s car overnight. Bruce said town bylaws already prevent camping and overnight stopping in parks, on road allowances and in municipal parking lots, such as at the wharf or by the centennial centre, but none specifically dealt with trail areas, town-owned vacant lots or unofficial parking lots.
She said signage will be erected at the Cooper’s Falls area trail head from funds in the 2012 budget; other similar recreational trails in the area will be signed next year. The other recreation trail areas affected include the TransCanada Trail in the Jevins and Silver Lake Conservation Area, the Beaver Creek section and urban route, as well as the Hahne Farm, Kahshe Barrens, Chamberlain, Brydon’s Bay, Peninsula, Leo Heritage, Devil’s Gap and Old Stone Road trails.
Anyone caught camping will now be subject to the Trespass to Property Act.