| Jan 11, 2007

Feature Article - November 30, 2006

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Januay 11, 2007 Could the line fences logjam be breakingby Jeff Green -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Advocates for “Rails to Trails”, long stymied by Section 20 of the Provincial Line Fences Act, may have something to cheer about.

Section 20 of the Act requires any municipality that purchases an abandoned railroad right of way to pay all the costs of fencing along the right of way if an adjacent landowner makes such a request.

This regulation has been tested in court in recent years, and when the courts sided with landowners against municipalities, it put a sudden halt to the burgeoning movement towards turning abandoned railroads into multi-purpose nature trails.

CentralFrontenacTownship backed out of the purchase of lands from CP Rail for fear of being saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fencing costs, and both South and Central Frontenac have been leery of any involvement with the proposed North-South K&P trail.

This all might change.


Amongst the information from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that accompanied the new Municipal Act, which came into effect on January 1st, the following statement was included:

“Changes to Other Legislation Includes:

- Line Fences Act When a railway company sells an abandoned railway line, the new owner is not responsible for the entire costs of a line fence unless an abutting farming business has made a written request. The usual fence viewing arbitration process continues to apply to all other lands abutting an abandoned railway line.”

This change could cut the fencing costs for municipalities considerably, especially where railway lines do not abut arable land.

Ralph Walton of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing told the News that this change was made in the spirit of a report on the Line Fences Act that was commissioned last year. The intention is to give more leeway to municipalities while continuing to protect the interest of farmers.

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