Trent Ernst, Editor
The Grizzly Valley ATV club is looking to get out of town. And they want to be able to drive on the roads to do it.
According to club executive members Gordon Graham and Tim Croston, this would not be a new privilege for local riders, nor would it be unique in BC.
Back when the town was built, says Graham, the town built in “escape routes” that would allow people to access the wilderness around town. “They weren’t just for hikers,” says Graham. “They were for walkers, ATVers, snowmobilers, horseback riders…”
Graham says that the club is not looking to be able to ride all around town on the roads, but simply “to be able to sneak down the road 150 feet to the nearest escape route.”
The club made a presentation to council this last week to make their case to be allowed to ride. They’re modeling their proposal on Elkford, BC, where off-road vehicles have been able to ride snowmobiles, ATVs and off-highway motorcycles “from our homes to the nearest trail in Elkford,” according to elkfordtrails.com.
This privilege comes at a cost. “To ride your OHV from town, you must have $1-million of off-highway third-party liability insurance and also a permit from the District, which includes a map showing the designated trail.”
In Elkford, this permit costs $2/year, but in Tumbler Ridge that cost might be higher.
Croston says that this system has been in place since 2006. “When they’re riding on the roads, there’s a 20 km speed limit. And they have to keep it quiet. Just about everyone who rides an ATV is a club member, and because this is a cherished privilege, they look after things. They police themselves.”
In order to make this happen, there would have to be some work by the District. “They might need some new stop signs and some designated crossings,” says Graham.
The biggest thing that would need to happen, though, says Croston, would be paving the walking path along Mackenzie to Pioneer Loop. “Then on the other side, leave the dirt path for off-highway vehicles.”
The ATV club is also looking for access down to the Golf Course parking lot. “There’s an existing trail there right now that the golf carts drive,” says Graham. “Tourists can access the hotels via ATV, why can’t they access the golf course?”
Croston says that some people are worried that if these changes were made, it would increase the number of ATVs speeding around town. “Our argument is things would get better not worse,” he says. “You’ll always have idiots, but if we get access to these routes, they’ll be so cherished, the club members are going to police themselves. It’s not going to be a flood of people.”
The ATV club formed last year, and have been working on this from nearly day one. “What a good idea for tourists,” says Graham. “Imagine if they could come into town from the campground at Flatbed to where the helicopter pad is and then walk in to the grocery store to get a loaf of bread.”
The BC Government recently announced new legislation for off-highway vehicles. Croston and Graham are sure that the new laws will be good for the club. In 2009, the District began work on an ATV policy, but with the Province working on new ATV legislation, the last meeting of the ATV subcommittee was in March of 2010.
Now that legislation has been introduced, the ATV club is hopeful that the subcommittee can be re-formed and that they can begin working on solving these issues.