As soon as the first major snowfall arrives, many local snowmobile enthusiasts will be seen out and about getting use out of their machines.
But if they don’t abide by the rules that were set previously in March and a recent amendment to a by-law, approved by council last month, violators could see a fine of $250.
An enforcement mechanism is now in place for the Niagara Regional Police to issue a provincial offence to individuals riding on any sidewalk in Fort Erie.
This fine is also consistent with the parks and beaches by-law fine, which makes it an offence to operate a motorized vehicle along the Friendship Trail.
A $100 fine is in place for failing to display a registration number and snow-mobilers are also required to operate only during permitted hours. Riding between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. on any day is prohibited.
Ward 1 Coun. Stephen Passero heard complaints of this issue in his jurisdiction and is satisfied to see this addition to the snowmobile by-law.
He said local residents are fortunate to have a geographical landscape that allows snowmobiling within the urban boundary and that most who participate in the recreational activity are responsible.
This by-law and the recent amendment address those that don’t.
"There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any snowmobiler to be using a sidewalk as their own personal highway, placing the safety of pedestrians at risk," said Passero.
Crossing at right angles and using sidewalks, getting to and from a property they have permission to use or their own residence is allowed, as written in the by-law.
Town staff says placing a $250 fine for using a sidewalk for the operation of a motor vehicle will serve as a deterrent to riders who fail to comply with the requirements in the by-law.