QUESTION – I’d like to know what the MNRF considers the legal definition of a maintained and unmaintained roadway when it comes to the discharge of a firearm.
ANSWER: While the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (FWCA) does not define “maintained” or “unmaintained,” the reference to a maintained roadway would include ordinary activities involved in the upkeep of the right of way.
These may vary according to the nature of the right of way, but could include such activities as snow clearance, vegetation removal, mowing, and general repair.
To determine whether a right of way is a maintained roadway, a person should look for evidence of maintenance, such as signage. If a sign indicates that a right of way is not maintained from October 1 to March 31, then that is quite clear.
If it says “No winter maintenance,” then the prohibition does not apply during winter (although it would be wise to find out what time period is actually meant by “winter”).
Where it is not clear that it is a maintained roadway, either from vagueness of the signs present, or a lack of signage altogether, check with the municipality or level of government that is responsible for the right of way for their interpretation of what their sign means, or for their maintenance records.
Questions such as whether the right of way is plowed in winter will help answer the question.
Section 17 of the FWCA needs to be read in conjunction with section 63 of O. Reg. 665/98 (Hunting) to know where in the province it applies.
These two sections indicate that the prohibition does not apply to a right of way that is not maintained, or, in the case of a right of way that is seasonally maintained, does not apply during the time of year the right of way is not maintained.
Provincial Enforcement Specialist, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
‘Ask a C.O.’ appears frequently in the print and digital editions of Ontario OUT of DOORS. If you have questions about hunting or fishing regulations, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them answered.