A controversial dirt biker’s paradise

Photo by Dan Koehler

Marks of off road vehicles can be seen at the raglan pits.

In a secluded area north of Oshawa, a dirt biker’s paradise awaits.

The Raglan pits as they are called, are a collection of large sand pits and forest trails.  The area is located east of Simcoe Street on the unassumed Boundary Road.  On a Saturday afternoon you can find bikers and other vehicles enjoying the pits, but that fun can come with a price.

The Raglan pits are owned by Lafarge Aggregate and Concrete.  Although the site sits vacant, Lafarge does not permit the use of the area and the police can issue users a ticket under the Trespass to Property Act of Ontario.  Police regularly patrol the area and look for riders in the pits, or riders on Boundary Road without proper insurance and licensing.

“We enforce existing laws and receive complaints from the public and the property owners on a regular basis about trespassing,” said David Selby of the DRPS Corporate Communications Unit.  “We do enforcement there periodically, with more activity in the warmer months than in the winter.”

Aside from off road vehicles, the pits have also become a popular spot for partying.  According to local resident Amy McQuaid, drug use, drinking and driving, and vandalism have all occurred in and around the pits.  McQuaid, the owner of Summerlea Golf Course located just west of the pits, has experienced firsthand the problems that can result from the areas use.

“When we first bought this we had a lot of trouble with people destroying the property,” she said.  “At one point we had somebody steal a bunch of stuff from here.”

Even with the issues she has experienced, McQuaid doesn’t have a problem with the pits and says most of the riders are good people.

“We put the word out and some of the kids that came up, they were in four wheel drive jeeps, pit bandits as we call them, and anonymously reported who it was.  A lot of the kids that are out there, aren’t bad kids really,” she said.  “It was kind of cool that they stood up for us.”

McQuaid hasn’t seen the number of people drop, even with the consistent police ticketing.  She wishes the police would target people who use the pits illegally at night, rather than riders during the day.

“The ticketing is not doing anything, I don’t think,” she said.  “The majority of the time that they’re out there is during the day, and that’s not when the illegal activity is generally going on.”

McQuaid and her family have been using the pits for their entire lives.  She supports the idea of people using the area as long as they are responsible, and she would like to see the area turned into a legitimate park, similar to the snowmobile club.  Snowmobilers obtain a license and a permit, and police patrol to make sure people are riding legally.

McQuaid isn’t the only one who supports the area being turned into a legitimate park.  Nicolas Listoria, a new rider to the pits, agrees with the idea.

“If it was like eighty bucks, or a hundred bucks for the day pass, I would definitely come here,” he said.  “It’s just really everything.  If you want to go on jumps you can do jumps, if you want to go in the sand there’s sand, if you want to go trail riding there’s trails.”

Listoria has made the trip from Markham to the pits twice.  He enjoys the privacy of the location and the community of riders.

It’s away from everybody really.  You’re not going to have neighbours complaining and stuff like that, that’s a big thing for me.  I don’t ever want to disturb the peace.” he said.  “Everybody here’s awesome.  Everybody helps out.”

Lafarge has not made any future plans for the site but local riders say they have talked about fencing the area in the past.  For now the future of the pits is unclear, but one thing is certain.  Police will continue to enforce laws in the area, and riders will keep coming for the love of the ride.

The Chronicle has reached out to Lafarge but they have yet to comment.

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Dan is a second-year journalism student at Durham College, who enjoys writing about music, the environment, politics, and opinion pieces. He also hosts a show on Riot Radio and works as a volunteer technician. Dan loves spending time at his cottage and has a wide array of unusual pets, including reptiles and arachnids. In the future he hopes to work for a radio station while doing freelance photography.