by Mac Christie Flamborough Review
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said her office has received several complaints about off-road vehicle use from across the ward. – shutterstock.ca/photo
An apparent increase in the use of all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes near settlement areas since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold prompted concerns from Flamborough residents.
Ryan Vidan, who lives on Bousfield Court in Waterdown, said there has been an issue with ATVs and dirt bikes for the six years he has lived in the area — but it has increased a lot more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Vidan said it’s not the end of the world, the constant noise — particularly later in the evenings — is annoying.
“It’s kind of constant … we’re constantly hearing dirt bikes and ATVs and they’re constantly ripping around on the field behind our house,” he said. “When they come out they go down the street, so there’s two or three ATVs ripping down the street.”
Vidan said recently it sounded like a motocross event behind his home at 9 p.m. on a weeknight after his children had gone to bed.
“There were four dirt bikes and four ATVs just going in circles,” he said.
Vidan stressed that Flamborough and Waterdown is a semirural community and he has no issue with people using ATVs and dirt bikes, but he feels there is a lot of land that could be used rather than directly beside a subdivision.
“There’s land all over the place. Why are you guys doing it right behind all these houses?” he said. “That’s the part that irritates me a bit — not that it’s the end of the world, but I would like it if it didn’t happen.”
Vidan said he does have some concerns about the off-road vehicles driving up and down Bousfield Court as there are a lot of kids who play in the neighbourhood.
“Safety is a bit of a concern, but for me it’s just the constant noise,” he said. “If it’s in the middle of the day, whatever — but when you’re talking about 9 p.m. it’s a bit annoying.”
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said her office has received several complaints from across the ward, including north of Parkside Drive, in the Mountainview Heights area and on the concession roads in Freelton, Carlisle and Millgrove.
“They’re coming in from all over,” she said of the complaints. “And it’s not just one or two, in some cases it’s five complaints a week or more.”
Partridge said there has been an uptick in complaints in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You’ve got young kids, teenagers, adults of all ages who are now home and they’re getting out their dirt bikes and ATVs and not being respectful of the neighbourhoods that they’re going into,” she said. “Although in some cases they live in those neighbourhoods.”
Partridge said when her office receives complaints they immediately turn them over to police, as the city has no authority to deal with motorized vehicles.
“The police can issue tickets and levy and charges, if they’re warranted.”
Partridge stressed that the same concerns with dirt bikes and ATVs extends right across the rural wards of the city.
“This is not just Flamborough, it is right across Glanbrook, it’s down in Winona, it’s through areas of Stoney Creek,” she said. “It seems to be in subdivisions or near subdivisions which are backing onto rural land.”
Hamilton Police Sgt. Brad Clark, the Division 30 crime manager, said the police generally have concerns when ATV and dirt bike users ride down the streets to get to their destination.
“Our big concern is when they’re on the roadway,” he said. “There are just so many things that could go poorly when that happens.”
He noted driving dirt bikes and ATVs on roadways is a violation of the Highway Traffic Act. When the activity is on private or conservation land, it becomes more of a trespass issue.
Clark said a lot of people don’t realize that they aren’t allowed to drive their dirt bike or ATV on the road.
“They think they’re going from their house to some field and they’re OK to go down the street, which they’re not,” he said. “They’re not covered, there’s no insurance, they’re not licensed.”
While the Hamilton Police Service does have a handful of ATV-trained officers, Clark said dealing with ATV and dirt bike complaints is not their primary job, although he does try to have the ATV officers in problem areas when he can.
“When I get complaints for certain areas then I’ll let the ATV officers know, I’ll let the beat officers know; I’ll make the area a special attention,” he said. “So at least officers can be out, have some visibility and hopefully stop some people and typically educate them.”
Clark said the issue is sporadic but admitted since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold traffic complaints in general have increased.
“There aren’t as many people out on the roads so some people take the opportunity to drive faster,” he said. “When they do that, there are more people at home to see it.”
Clark said as soon as the nice weather rolls around there seems to be an uptick in dirt bike and ATV complaints.
“I would say a little bit more this year … but I don’t see a massive increase in those kinds of complaints,” he said. “Most of the complaints have been Waterdown and Flamborough but we have had them in rural Ancaster and Binbrook.
“I don’t think it’s something that’s unique to Waterdown and Flamborough.”
Clark said if someone does have a concern, they should call the Hamilton Police Service non-emergency number at 905-546-4925.
“The odds of us coming by right at that right time when someone happens to be out is pretty slim.”