In November 2000, the Forest Roads and Water Crossings Initiative (FRWCI) was launched to undertake a preliminary examination of several aspects of management of forest access roads on Crown land including: liability, responsibility, status of existing infrastructure, status of current policy and planning direction. In their final report, the FRWCI Task Team recommended that “the 1992 Access Roads Manual should be reviewed and redundant components rescinded. The remaining relevant components should be updated and embedded in the most appropriate existing manual or guideline.” The final report of the FRWCI was posted on the Environmental Registry on December 8, 2003 (Registry number XB03E7001).
In response to the recommendations of the FRWCI Task Team, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) is in the process of updating a draft Crown Land Roads Manual (new name) to replace the outdated Access Roads Manual. In October 2006 the Ministry provided advance notice to the public regarding its intent to update the 1992 Access Roads Manual through an Environmental Registry information posting (Registry number XB06E6023).
The Ministry’s 1992 Access Roads Manual provided policy, procedural and administrative direction to ministry staff on the management of access roads and bridges on Crown land. The Crown Land Roads Manual primarily updates, streamlines and clarifies existing policy direction and it does not propose significant changes to existing practices.
The Crown Land Roads Manual deals with the management of roads and bridges on Crown land which are not being managed within the context of a forest management plan. The Manual does not deal with land use planning or resource access road planning, because these matters are dealt with through the ministry’s land use and resource management planning processes. No changes to the ministry’s land use and resource management planning processes are being proposed through the preparation of this Manual.
The policies and procedures being put forward for consultation at this time include an introduction and context section and separate sections on policy and procedural direction for the development of Use Management Strategies for Crown land roads, requirements for road management, and responsibility partitioning. Over time, it is anticipated that the Crown Land Roads Manual will also be expanded in scope to include sections dealing with bridge design, engineering specifications, and information management related to Crown land roads.
If approved, the Crown Land Roads Manual will replace the 1992 Access Roads Manual and it will be an internet based electronic document to allow for broad public, stakeholder and Ontario Public Service staff access to the document.