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Backcountry vehicle owners face new rules

Off-Road Vehicle Act to bring new data collection system and greater accountability



Proposed new legislation governing off-road vehicles (ORVs) is getting positive reviews from those potentially impacted by the proposed legislation.

Erin Hart of the BC Snowmobile Federation welcomes the new provincial legislation and Shawn Wilson of Blackcomb Snowmobile sees benefits.

Tony Cailes, president of the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club, is looking forward to increased backcountry vehicle community accountability through the new rules.

"People need to be compliant with registration and then attaching your driver's license to your machine," said Cailes during the annual Snow-a-rama event held on Saturday, March 1 at the entrance to the Callaghan Valley in the Brandywine parking lot.

Hart was involved in a lengthy provincial consultation process held before details of the proposed legislation were revealed Feb. 24.

"Is it anywhere perfect? No. Is it going to get us to where we want to go? Yes," said Hart.

Wilson said he doesn't expect the new rules to have a significant impact on his tour company, but he welcomes anything that will help authorities deal with irresponsible vehicle owners.

"A lot of people who are out there don't ride with insurance, or registration, and I'd like to see more people have insurance," said Wilson.

According to the province, the proposed legislation will create a one-time Insurance Corporation of British Columbia registration system. The database of owners and machines would help with identifying stolen or abandoned ORVs as well.

A provincial government news release announcing the proposed legislation reported police would have more effective enforcement tools to target ORV owners who damage sensitive habitat or endanger others. Under the new rules, police will have the ability to stop and inspect ORVs for violations and seize vehicles for safety or evidence purposes. The maximum fine for offences is to increase from $500 to $5,000.

The new regulations will pave the way for the creation of ORV operating rules.

Most people wear helmets while using ORVs, but it isn't mandatory, so there's a push for ORV helmet laws.

Hart said the legislation would take the off-road vehicle community to a new level of organization within the province.

"The next step will hopefully be a provincial trails pass," said Hart.

Jeremy McCall, executive director, Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia is also supportive of the move.

"Among other benefits, this legislation will offer security of ownership and improved safety standards for the riders of ORVs and it will provide for higher standards of compliance and enforcement which will benefit non-motorized recreationists," said McCall in the news release.