Use of Golf Carts on Designated Municipal Roads
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities advocate for the Government of Alberta to make changes to the Alberta Traffic Safety Act and regulations plus the Use Of Highway And Rules Of The Road Regulation that would allow Municipalities, if they so desire, to approve the use of golf carts on certain approved roads and public lands within their municipality.
WHEREAS a number of ABmunis members, primarily from smaller communities, have expressed support for the use of golf carts on certain designated municipal roads as an ability-inclusive, cost-effective, safe, environmentally-aware transportation alternative that enhances community connectivity;
WHEREAS as the result of a Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) member resolution, the Saskatchewan Traffic Safety Act has been updated to allow people to drive golf carts on certain municipal roads. As of May 2023, Saskatchewan municipalities have the ability to allow golf carts to be used on public roads if their municipality passes a bylaw, subject to certain limitations and Saskatchewan Government Insurance (the “Administrator”) approval;
WHEREAS British Columbia and Ontario have implemented pilot projects to determine how to best integrate the safe use of golf cart in municipalities. The municipalities involved in the pilot projects must pass a by-law to permit golf cart use and may set out specific requirements, including additional safety requirements, based on what is best for their communities;
WHEREAS the operation of golf carts on Alberta municipal roads would be governed by changes to the Traffic Safety Act of Alberta and should be enabled through a municipality specific bylaw. Off Highway Vehicles already enjoy this type of flexibility through the Alberta Traffic Safety Act 120(4)(b) where the council of a municipality may, by bylaw, authorize or issue a permit authorizing persons to drive off-highway vehicles along certain roads that are under their direct control and management; and
WHEREAS the use of micro-mobility battery-powered scooters on roads is a good example of where municipality specific bylaws have been successfully created in coordination with amendments to Alberta provincial regulations to allow for the safe use electric scooters.
The requested action should have a high priority. Many jurisdictions across Canada already see the benefit of having an ability-inclusive, cost-effective, safe, environmentally-aware transportation alternative that enhances community connectivity and golf carts can provide this. Properly position, these changes could also form part of a bigger strategy on aging population, mobility, and declining rural populations.
Currently, golf carts are classified as a prohibited miniature vehicle, which also includes personal transporter, pocket bikes, go carts, electric scooters and golf carts. These vehicles are motor vehicles as defined in the Traffic Safety Act; however, they also meet the definition of “miniature vehicles” which are prohibited from use on roads. With the rise of a micro-mobility revolution to deliver low carbon, cost- effective, ability-inclusive means for alternative transportation, changes are required to the prohibited miniature vehicle classification. Golf Carts and electric scooters should be removed from this classification and provided with rules and regulations that would allow for their safe operation on municipal roads.
As of May 2023, Saskatchewan municipalities now have the ability to allow golf carts to be used on public roads for more than just getting to and from the course. SGI has updated a policy that will allow people to drive golf carts on certain municipal roads, if their municipality passes a by-law, subject to certain limitations and SGI approval. This change in regulations is the result of a member resolution at their recent annual convention of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA). The resolution called for change, stating, "many SUMA members, primarily from smaller communities and resort villages, have expressed support for ability-inclusive, cost-effective, safe, environmentally-aware transportation alternatives that enhance community connectivity and reduce parking congestion in public gathering spaces."
In response to that resolution, the Saskatchewan Government stated that, "Our government has listened to our municipal stakeholders and asked SGI to make these common-sense changes that balance safety considerations with meeting the needs of our communities," Minister Responsible for SGI Don Morgan said.
"Expanding the use of golf carts within our resort village will allow golf carts to operate as vehicles on municipal roadways subject to numerous safety requirements," Resort Village of Shields Mayor Angie Larson said. "This will improve the quality of life for our community."
A new pilot project will now allow golf carts to operate on certain local roads in Chase and in Qualicum Beach, providing drivers with more transportation options, Premier Christy Clark announced today.
“This change makes it easier for people, particularly seniors, to stay engaged in their community and access the services that make their lives better,” said Premier Clark. “By allowing these lower emission vehicles on local streets, we are connecting British Columbians with their families and friends and improving not only their health but the quality of their lives.”
“This innovative pilot project will provide British Columbians with more transportation choices.” said MLA for Parksville-Qualicum Michelle Stillwell. "Qualicum Beach is a great location to trial the program, keeping people, especially seniors connected with their family, friends and community.”
"We have heard from residents that they would like additional options to use alternative and environmentally friendly vehicles," said Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek. "Golf carts will give our town more ways to get around and we are thrilled to be part of this pilot project as I believe it is appropriate in our community."
The golf carts will need to meet detailed operating conditions and vehicle specifications such as only driving on municipal roads with a maximum speed of 30 km/h during daylight hours. The golf cart must be registered and insured and be equipped with seat belts, a horn, lights, signals, and a rear-view mirror. Drivers will need to have a valid driver’s license.
Ontario has created a ten-year pilot framework for permitting the use of golf carts on-road; referred to as ‘golf cars’ in regulations. On June 3, 2020, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation introduced this new pilot project in order to examine golf cart’s ability to safely integrate with other vehicle types and determine whether existing rules of the road are adequate. The pilot project operates under Ontario Regulation 407/21 Pilot Project – Golf Cars sets out the broad regulatory framework to allow golf cars on roads on Pelee Island and in Huron-Kinloss and includes operator and vehicle requirements.
The province established the broad regulatory framework for golf carts that include a number of vehicle and operating requirements that must be met. The municipalities involved in the pilot project must pass a by-law to permit golf cart use and may set out specific requirements, including additional safety requirements, based on what is best for their communities. Municipalities are in the best position to determine the needs of their communities.
Micro-mobility companies Lime, Neuron and Bird Canada offer rentable, battery-powered scooters after Alberta’s provincial regulations were amended to allow for their use. Like other forms of motorized transportation, scooters are subject to laws governing safe usage. But those laws can vary. A great example of how municipalities can decide what is best for them, in Calgary scooter users can ride on sidewalks but not on roads and in Edmonton, it is the opposite: Riders are prohibited from sidewalks but allowed on roads with speed limits of 50 km/h or less. Both cities permit scooters on paved pathways and in bike lanes. It is notable that these rules specifically apply to rented scooters.
Municipalities in Alberta already have some flexibility in determining road safety rules under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act and this flexibility should be extended to the use of golf carts. Example, Alberta Traffic Safety Act 120(5) A municipal permit, order or bylaw issued or made under this section may do one or more of the following: (a) prescribe terms and conditions, or either of them, under which an off-highway vehicle may be operated on a highway; (b) prescribe the maximum speed limits, not to exceed the maximum speed limits prescribed for vehicles under this Act, that are applicable to an off-highway vehicle; (c) prescribe the minimum speed limits that are applicable to off-highway vehicles; (d) prescribe routes to be used by off-highway vehicles.