Rural Pathways

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Rural Pathway Shared Use Policy

The following shared uses are permitted on a year-round basis unless otherwise stipulated:

  1. Pedestrians/skiers, cyclists, and on-leash dog walking;
  2. Bicycles, including eBikes (as defined by the Province of Ontario);
  3. Horse-riding;

All motorized vehicles are prohibited except as expressly exempted or permitted under this policy as follows:

  1. Exempted Motorized Vehicles;
    • All police and emergency response vehicles;
    • Low-speed motorized mobility aids for the disabled including wheelchairs and scooters; and,
    • Motorized vehicles as duly authorized for pathway maintenance or trail grooming.
  2. Snowmobiles are permitted on shared-use pathways during a specified winter period based on the following general conditions :
    • All snowmobilers using the pathways must be members of or under the authority of clubs that have entered into license of occupation agreements with the City and Snowmobile Clubs on a per-pathway basis, and must abide by the terms of those agreements ;
    • Only clubs belonging to the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), where membership can be proven by way of appropriate documentation, identification, and valid OFSC stickers on the snowmobile vehicle, can enter into licence of occupation agreements with the City;
    • That snowmobiles 1996 or older (defined as ‘Classic by the OFSC) be excluded from access to these Pathways as a condition of the license; and
    • That for the 2011/12 season and later, license of occupation agreements with snowmobile clubs for the Prescott-Russell and Osgoode pathways incorporate 20km/hr speed reduction zones and curfews between midnight and 6 AM through built-up areas as indicated on pathway-specific maps

Rural Pathways Shared-Use Policy Review

About the pathways

The City of Ottawa boasts three major pathways in the city’s surrounding rural areas.  Totalling over a combined 65 km, these converted rail lines provide significant year round multi-use recreational pathway links. 

  • The Prescott-Russell Pathway extends eastward from the greenbelt near Blair Road through the Village of Navan to the Prescott-Russell Trail at Canaan Road.
  • The Osgoode Pathway extends southward from Leitrim Road to Buckles Street in Osgoode Village.
  • The Ottawa-Carleton Trailway extends westward from Bells Corners near Fitzgerald Road through Kanata and Stittsville to Ashton Station Road and beyond to the Town of Carleton Place. The Ottawa-Carleton Trailway is part of the Trans Canada Trail.

More about the Shared Use Policy

The Rural Pathways Shared-Use Policy was approved by the City Council in February 2011 following a comprehensive study of similar pathways in other jurisdictions. Particular attention was given to pathways with a history of shared use without injuries to trail users. 

Under the policy, all motorized vehicles are prohibited on the pathways from spring to fall to provide the best environment for the pedestrians and cyclists who are the primary trail users during this period.

Snowmobiles are allowed on the pathways in the winter but are subject to restrictions, such as speed limits and curfews. 

Committee and Council Reports

Committee report dated 3 March 2011 provides more information about this project.