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Occupiers’ Liability: Municipal Liability and Recreational Trails

The duty of care described in the Occupiers’ Liability Act is limited in the case of recreational trails. This entry will briefly describe the duty of the municipality towards recreational trail users.

If a trail is marked as a recreational trail, a more limited duty under subsection 4(i) of the Occupiers’ Liability Act applies. In these situations, persons entering recreational trails will be deemed to have willingly assumed the risks of doing so. The duty owed by the municipality to such persons is to not create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or to his/her property, and to not act with reckless disregard of the person’s presence. This limited duty may not apply in cases where a fee is paid for entry to the trail or if the municipality is providing the person with living accommodations.

Courts have found that an occupier acts with reckless disregard when he does or omits to do something which he/she should recognize as likely to cause damage or injury to the persons’ presence on his/her premises, not caring whether such damage or injury results.

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