Ask a CO: What is a maintained roadway?

by Editorial Staff | January 4, 2016
Maintained roadway

Q: 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.
– Cam Poirier

A: 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.

David Critchlow (Provincial Enforcement Specialist, MNRF)

This is archived content. Ask a CO is a regular feature in the print edition of Ontario OUT of DOORS.

Please check the most recent Ontario hunting and fishing regulations summaries, as rules and regulations can change.

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  1. tommygun wrote: so shooting from a 400 series why is a NO NO?
  2. Roy Neureuther wrote: I have often wondered what "..a maintained roadway.." really means. Obviously, it is unquestionable in many cases when a road is maintained. However, many times ( especially here in northern Ontario ) , you find yourself hunting along, or very near a road / trail / path , etc and cannot be sure whether it would be considered a maintained roadway or not ! Can a roadway be considered maintained seasonably, in which case you would be allowed to hunt on or across it certain times of the year ? I'm not sure which CO will reply, perhaps it'll be a former SSFC classmate Mark, or maybe Brenda whom I haven't seen since Amituk Lake !!
    • Jason Bain wrote: Thank you for the question, Roy. Here's a response from provincial enforcement specialist David Critchlow. "A maintained roadway is one that receives maintenance during all or part of the year. Roadways can be seasonally maintained; in these cases, any restriction on possession or discharge of loaded firearms only applies during the time period that the roadway is maintained. Check with the municipal government or other organization responsible for the roadway to find out if and during what time periods the roadway is maintained. Also check with local conservation officers to see whether the restrictions apply on a particular roadway. Depending on where you are in Ontario, the restrictions apply to the entire road right of way or only to the travelled portion of the road."
  3. Kenneth Prescott wrote: MNR often posts roads as non maintained, use at your own risk, I have been stopped on such an access road here in Northern Ontario. Gun uncased. Never any problem, they check fire arm and licenses, can't be loaded, I have shot from those roads many times. as from logging bush roads.