Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo
CHETWYND – A proposed bill before the provincial legislature this current session will bring in new enforcement tools for police and provincial officers, while making it mandatory to register off-road vehicles for use on any crown lands.
The proposed new law will replace what was commonly known as the ATV act, which was a 40-year old piece of legislation. It was tabled Feb. 24 and stems from a framework released five years ago.
The one-time registration fee will be $48, and will mean that quads, dirt bikes, snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles will be required to display a license plate before they can operate on crown or public lands. The database will be integrated with the Insurance Corp. of BC (ICBC) vehicle registry.
Steve Thompson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations says that if the proposed legislation is passed, it will help the government crack down on irresponsible users, boost fines for violations and make it easier to track stolen off-road vehicles.
Officers will now have the ability to stop and inspect off-road vehicles for violations, seize an off-road vehicle for safety or evidence purposes and increase the maximum fine for offences from $500 to $5000.
“Whether hunting, fishing, getting back to nature or just getting to work, many outdoor enthusiasts rely on off-road vehicles to augment their rural experience,” Thompson said.
Thompson added that there would also be regulations that require drivers to wear helmets on public and crown lands.
Organizations and clubs across the province have been pushing for the new off-road vehicle law since 2002.
“The announcement [of the proposed law] is a tremendous tribute to the dedicated members of non-government organizations who formed the Coalition for Licensing and Registration of Off Road vehicles in 2002,” said Outdoor Recreation Council of BC executive director Jeremy McCall.
“Among other benefits, this legislation will offer security of ownership and improved safety standards for the riders of off-road vehicles and it will provide for higher standards of compliance and enforcement which will benefit non-motorized recreationalists.”