Landowner Relations “101” Workshop
On March 9, an all day workshop was attended by some 25 volunteers responsible for landowner relations across the province. Hosted jointly by Hike Ontario and the Bruce Trail Conservancy, this most successful event was held in the boardroom of the new BTC offices in the west end of Dundas. Clubs participating (aside from BT clubs) included the Thames, Grand, Maitland, Avon, Oak Ridges, Rideau, Guelph, and Ganaraska.
BTC and HO worked collaboratively on a wide ranging but fast-paced slide presentation, punctuated throughout with numerous opportunities for input on each topic from those present, who had wealth of experience in dealing first hand with landowners on the subject of trails.
For the BTC, some 1000 properties, nearly half with houses on them, remain to be secured along the “optimum route” of the BT. Handshake agreements permit the trail through many of these lands, while other landowners remain offside. For the other Hike Ontario clubs, not being land trusts and therefore not securing the trail through acquisitions, handshakes are by far the dominant means of “securing” a trail along approximately 3,000 kilometers of club trails.
Particular focus was taken on how volunteer landowner relations directors can counter landowners’ perceptions of nuisances that a trail might bring by trail design and attentive management of the issues that might be encountered, such as litter and motorized vehicles. At the same time, a list of benefits of a trail that could be cited to a landowner were outlined.
Also covered in depth was the various means of developing accurate maps and lists of landowner contact information. (Land Registry Offices have excellent maps of property boundaries; LRO’s and local municipalities have large scale maps with Assessment Roll Numbers…the latter are then used to find landowner names and addresses in the Assessment Roll.)
Other topics included the (rare) use of easements, the new Trails Act that was proclaimed in October 2016, liability insurance coverage, types of landowners…both private and public, and means of showing appreciation to landowners for allowing a trail on their land.
Hike Ontario and the BTC both anticipate hosting follow-on sessions of this kind in the future.