Chatham-Kent ATV Bylaw

Off-Road Vehicle By-Law

All-terrain vehicle

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has passed a by-law that permits the use of off-road vehicles on highways located within Chatham-Kent.

Off-Road Vehicle By-Law #32-2017

Chatham-Kent Off-road Vehicle By-Law #32-2017 permits off-road vehicles (ORVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on all highways located in Chatham-Kent from one half hour after sunrise to one half hour before sunset, except for the following:

  1. Provincial Highways (King’s Highway 40 and King’s Highway 401)
  2. All Highways located within the Community of Chatham (see Chatham Highways Map in the Downloads Section)
  3. Highways Listed in By-Law #32-2017 Schedule A – Restricted Highways (or see the ORV Restricted Roads Map in the Downloads Section)

Provincial Regulations

In the Province of Ontario, off-road vehicles are regulated under the following legislation:

The Highway Traffic Act, 1990 (HTA) and Regulation 316/03 prohibits the use of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on all Ontario highways with some exceptions. These exceptions include driving directly across a highway, and use of off-road vehicles for agricultural purposes, animal trapping and specific public works functions.

The HTA and Regulation 316/03 allows the council of a municipality to pass by-laws permitting specified off-road vehicle classes on highways, or part of the highway, during specified months and hours. Chatham-Kent Off-road Vehicle By-Law #32-2017 has been passed to permit ORVs on all highways except those specified in the by-law.

All ORVs are prohibited from Highway 401 and all other Provincial 400 series highways.

Permitted Off-Road Vehicles

The classes of ORVs shown in Table 1 may be operated on Chatham-Kent highways, where permitted.


   Table 1: Off-Road Vehicle Classes Permitted on Ontario Highways
Single rider ATV Single Rider All-terrain Vehicle – A single rider all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is designed to travel on four low-pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator, handle bars for steering control and must be designed by the manufacturer to carry a driver and no passengers.
Two-up ATV Two-Up All-terrain Vehicle – A two-up ATV is designed and intended for use by an operator or an operator and a passenger. It is equipped with a seating position behind the operator, designed to carry only one passenger.
Recreational Off-highway Vehicle Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle – Also called a side-by-side ATV. It has two abreast seats, typically built with a hood, and uses a steering wheel instead of a motorcycle steering wheel. Seat belts are required and must be worn by both riders.
Multi-purpose Off-highway Vehicle Multi-Purpose Off-Highway Vehicle – Also called a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). UTVs have similar characteristics to the Recreational Off-highway Vehicle but also features a box bed. These are generally designed for utility rather than for recreational purposes. Seat belts are required and must be worn by both riders.

Vehicle and Operator Requirements

The Off-Road Vehicle Act, 1990 requires an ORV to be registered for a permit, carry a license plate, and be insured with a motor vehicle liability policy in accordance with the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, 1990 and the Insurance Act, 1990. The permit, plate, and insurance requirements apply to the use of ORVs both on and off the highway.

Both the permit and license plate are issued by the Ministry of Transportation at a ServiceOntario Driver’s License Office. Information for obtaining permits and plates for ORVs can be found at the following link:

To operate an ORV on the highway, the HTA requires the operator to be at least 16 years of age and hold at least a valid G2 or M2 driver’s license. All riders must wear an approved motorcycle helmet and where applicable, wear a seat belt.

Rules of the Road

An ORV is a motor vehicle and as such must follow the rules of the road regulations provided for in the HTA and its regulations. The HTA also provides rules of the road regulations designed specifically for operating ORVs on highways.

Off-road vehicles must be driven on the shoulder of the highway. If a shoulder is unavailable, obstructed, or not wide enough to fully accommodate both left and right wheels of the vehicle, the ORV must be driven on the roadway. The ORV must always be driven in the same direction as the traffic flow and must run as close to and parallel with the right edge of the shoulder or roadway, whichever is applicable, as can be done practicably and safely. Other regulations generally prohibit ORVs from highways under construction or maintenance, and specify rules for making left turns from one highway to another.

Before entering a highway, an ORV must yield right of way to vehicles already on the shoulder or roadway and must enter only when it is safe to do so. Passing any motor vehicle is prohibited on the roadway. Passing is also prohibited on the shoulder, unless each motor vehicle is an ORV and passing can completely occur on the shoulder.

Speed Limits

The HTA regulates ORVs to the following speed limits on highways:

  • 20 km/h where the posted speed limit is 50 km/h or less,
  • 50 km/h where the posted speed limit is greater than 50 km/h

The HTA also permits municipalities to pass by-laws that prescribe a lower rate of speed than those described above. However, the HTA defined speed limits for ORVs remain in effect in Chatham-Kent.

Additional Information

Further information regarding the operation of off-road vehicles in Ontario can be found here: Ministry of Transportation Driver’s Handbook (Off-road Vehicles Section). A summary of driver requirements, vehicle requirements, and rules of the road for operating ORVs in Ontario can be found in the “Smart Ride Safe Ride ATV” brochure found in the Downloads Section.