ORV legislation coming to B.C.

Recently introduced bill will regulate backcountry ORV use

  • Mar. 1, 2014 6:00 p.m.

 

Bill 13, the Off Road Vehicle Act introduced last week, promises  certainty, safety and regulatory structure for thousands of off-road  enthusiasts.

The proposed Off Road Vehicle – or ORV – Act replaces the 40-year-old  Motor Vehicle (All Terrain) Act with a modern management structure,  designed to align with existing regulatory regimes at minimal cost.

Increased use of quads, snowmobiles and other ORVs has helped British  Columbians get out and enjoy the beauty of the province’s backcountry.

Bill 13 will help ensure these vehicles are driven in a safe and  environmentally responsible manner.

The act, if passed and brought into force, will:

* Establish a one-time registration system specifically designed to  integrate with the pre-existing structure of the Insurance Corporation of  British Columbia’s vehicle registry, reducing implementation costs. ORVs  will have to be registered and display a clearly visible number plate  before they can be operated on Crown or other public land.

* Allow the development of regulations on the rules of operation (such as  wearing helmets), safety standards and conditions of use for a wide range  of modern ORVs, including snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles or “quads”, dirt bikes and utility terrain vehicles.

* Assist in identifying stolen or abandoned ORVs, by requiring ORVs to be  registered in a database that is accessible to peace officers at all  times.

* Provide officers with more effective enforcement tools to target the  small number of irresponsible ORV owners that endanger others or damage  sensitive habitat. This includes the ability to stop and inspect ORVs for  violations, seize an ORV for safety or evidence purposes, and increase  the maximum fine for offences from $500 to $5,000.

Included in the proposed ORV legislation is an amendment to the Special  Accounts Appropriation and Control Act establishing the ORV Trail  Management Sub-account. This will ease the process of providing future  investments directly into developing and maintaining trails, delivering  lasting benefits to the ORV tourism industry in rural communities.

The proposed ORV Act is the result of extensive consultation, and  represents a fair compromise for all user groups. Implementation,  including registration provisions, is anticipated in the fall of 2014.

Quick Facts

– An estimated 200,000 ORVs are used in the province.

– Snowmobiles have been registered in British Columbia since the 1970s.

– British Columbia is currently one of the last provinces in Canada that  does not require registration of off-road vehicles.