Stoney Creek farmer struggles with ATV trespassers

Cody Shaw has a sprawling 100-acre farm in upper Stoney Creek. He has two horses, two chicken barns, and plenty of room to roam. There's just one problem: all those ATV riders.

Cody Shaw will present to city councillors next month

Cody Shaw, an upper Stoney Creek farmer, wants the city to crack down on trespassing off-roaders. (The Canadian Press)

Cody Shaw has a sprawling 100-acre farm in upper Stoney Creek. He has two horses, two chicken barns, and plenty of room to roam.

A $10,000 machine does $10,000 in damage real damn quick.- Brenda Johnson, Ward 11 councillor

There's just one problem: all those all-terrain vehicle (ATV) riders.

Shaw is scheduled to make a presentation to Hamilton city councillors next month asking them to help him control the numerous ATV riders he says are causing havoc on his property.

They leave beer cans, he told CBC Hamilton. Last year, they appeared to cut down wood and build a bonfire. Someone else started a bonfire on his farm earlier this year.

"They go through our fields," he said. "They destroy everything. What we were hoping to use as a horse trail has been all but destroyed."

Shaw's problem isn't a new one in Hamilton's rural areas, but to him, it's particularly intense. Police have come out to his property "hundreds of times," he said. But the problem just keeps getting worse.

I've been a councillor for seven years, and it's been an issue since day one.- Judi Partridge, Ward 15 councillor

He wants the city to either block off a mud road along the back of his property, or examine and enforce tough ATV rules that will act as an even greater deterrent.

"I don't know what the city can do," he said, but "it seems like ATVs are beyond the law."

Shaw's complaint isn't a new one in rural Hamilton, where people on off-road ATVs and dirt bikes have clashed for years with property owners who want them off the land.

Brenda Johnson, Ward 11 councillor for Glanbrook, remembers the issue reaching one of its many fever pitches four years ago when about 90 farmers gathered at a meeting and aired their grievances about off-roaders.

Attitudes vary

The city teamed up with Hamilton Police Service and the Haldimand ATV Club to produce a pamphlet, Johnson said. That fixed the issue for a while.

"Unless posted for ATV use, you are trespassing if you don't have the property owner's written permission," the pamphlet says. "Trespassing is a serious offence."

That includes railroad property, conservation areas, beaches, parks and utility corridors, it says. It also includes farm fields and open spaces.

Johnson knows the issue isn't, and probably never will be, permanently resolved. Some farmers are lenient about off-roaders, she said. Some use every square inch of their properties on crops, so an off-roader cutting through impacts their livelihoods.

"A $10,000 machine does $10,000 in damage real damn quick," she said.

'Respect their land'

"Farmers are very accommodating, but at the same time, respect their land."

Judi Partridge, councillor for Ward 15 in Flamborough, deals with it too.

It's not only an issue with farms, she said, but in areas where new homes are under construction.

"I've been a councillor for seven years, and it's been an issue since day one," she said.

Shaw is due to speak to city council's planning committee next month.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC


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