Rainbow

Rainbow

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Line Fences Act and Abandoned Rail Rights of Way

In 2005, in response to concerns expressed by owners of abandoned rail rights-of-way and the agricultural community the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing asked Dr. Wayne Caldwell to consult with key stakeholders to identify the issues, develop possible solutions, build consensus and provide non-binding advice on possible changes to section 20 of the Line Fences Act.  The result was a substantial report on the subject by Dr. Caldwell:
Abandoned Rail Right of Ways (ARROWs) and the need for fencing create a unique challenge for the Line Fences Act. While federal requirements for fencing of active rail right-of-ways are contained in the Railway Safety Act3 the provincial Line Fences Act has jurisdiction over fencing adjacent to ARROWs. Specifically the legislation under Section 20 requires municipal owners (as well as the Crown in right of Ontario and a crown agency and any non-adjacent landowner) of former or abandoned rail right-of-ways to construct and maintain, in perpetuity, all fences adjacent to all ARROWs that have come into municipal ownership.

The requirement of the legislation that fencing be provided by municipalities has become an issue from two perspectives. From municipalities’ perspectives there is a concern that they will be required to provide and maintain miles of unneeded fences. From an agricultural perspective some municipalities have been reticent to fulfill their obligations and some farmers have been forced to resort to the courts to ensure that appropriate fences are constructed. Amidst these two issues are a myriad of subtleties that will be explored later within this report.

In response to municipal and agricultural concerns the province initiated this study with the following three goals:
􀂃 To identify all issues related to line fence responsibilities on abandoned rail rights-of-way and develop possible solutions.

􀂃 Seek to build consensus on possible solutions to issues and to identify areas where no consensus has been reached.

􀂃 To provide non-binding advice to the Minister on improvements to section 20 of the Line Fences Act and on other actions that may provide relief to the issues identified.
Read the full report at: The Line Fences Act and Abandoned Rail Right of Ways.