April 1, 2014
British Columbia Passes New Off Road Vehicle Regulations
British Columbia is finally taking steps to regulate off road vehicles in its Spring Legislative Session with the Off Road Vehicle Act (Bill 13). Off road vehicles can be environmentally destructive when they are used off appropriate roads and trails. This is especially true when they are used in environmentally sensitive areas. In 2011 the BC government passed a law that bans off road vehicles from causing harm to crown lands. An educational pamphlet explains:
“Whenever you drive off-road, you are disrupting the ecological foundation of our natural areas. In sensitive sites, the damage can be catastrophic. … Operating vehicles irresponsibly can cause long-term irreparable changes to the structure of the soil, making it difficult for plants to take root and grow. … Off-roading in wetlands kills birds, frogs and salamanders. Damaged wetlands may impact many generations of wildlife due to the lack of plant life and clean water.”
It has been challenging to enforce these new off road vehicle regulations since these vehicles have not needed to be registered until now. Bill 13 would require registration of vehicles and it gives the government new powers to deal with off road vehicle users who are damaging the environment or not otherwise following the law.
Bill 13 is also part of a broader off road vehicle management framework that is being developed by the province. This framework is mentioned in Executive Director of the Grasslands Conservation Council Scott Benton’s press release about Bill 13:
“The requirement for registration is the corner stone for future management and enforcement of ORV activities and theft prevention. This legislation provides a solid platform to develop comprehensive regulations that will address safety, operator conduct and environmental protection in the future. The Grasslands Conservation Council of BC looks forward to working with the Province and others in developing the accompanying regulations. The Grassland Conservation Council of BC has been working with a coalition of 10 other interests towards improving the management of off road vehicles for over 10 years.”