Off-road vehicle registration program growing

More than half of off-road vehicles in B.C. are now registered under new provincial rules

Cam Fortems – Kamloops This Week

More than half of off-road vehicles in B.C. are now registered under new provincial rules that require an identifying plate or sticker for use on Crown land.

In response to a request, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations reported more than 106,000 off-road vehicles (ORVs) are now registered with ICBC.

Any ORV operating on Crown land requires registration with ICBC and an identifying number plate or sticker.

“This year, we’ve checked about 2,000 hunters in three months,” Kamloops conservation officer Kevin Van Damme said.

“We found compliance on ORVs was extremely high. It was rare to find an ORV that was not registered.”

Van Damme said he was surprised at the high level of registration considering the program just went into effect at the end of 2015. There are an estimated 200,000 ORVs in the province, but registration is only required if machines are used on Crown land.

The program was the culmination of more than a decade of push by rural municipalities, ranching and conservation groups and even some organized riding groups.

In response to that pressure, then-minister responsible and Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger made an announcement in 2009 promising off-road vehicle legislation — a promise that would take six more years for the B.C. Liberal government to enact.

Moira Jaatteenmaki, president of the Quad Riders Association of B.C., said her group is pleased with the program and the uptake by riders.

“At first, some were saying, ‘Why do I have to do this? It’s a cash grab.’ I think people now realize there’s tremendous benefit to registration.”

The push to register ORVs — which includes everything from quads to side-by-side vehicles to dirt bikes — came largely from the desire to identify machines operating in prohibited areas or destroying the landscape.

“ATVs were being blamed for a lot of things but no one could identify anything,” Jaatteenmaki said.

“Now you’ve got a plate and your visible. You can be held responsible.”

The province provided statistics showing natural-resource officers issued 41 tickets to Nov. 15 this year, while conservation officers handed out 69 tickets and 186 warnings from April 1 to Nov. 10.

Operation of an ORV in a careless manner can result in a $368 ticket, while the penalty for riding an unregistered ORV is $230.

Along with registration contained in the new legislation are rules requiring mandatory helmet use and supervision of children.

Van Damme said hunters are still coming around to the new rules, particularly when they are on the trail of prey.

“In the past, regulations didn’t require them to wear a helmet in those situations . . .” he said. “It’s a new thing for hunters.”

Another benefit of registration is the ability of police and conservation officers to track stolen machines.

“For people spending thousands on these vehicles, their protection is higher,” Van Damme said. “It’s easier for us to find these machines.”

COs warn hunters about guns

Local conservation officers issued 40 charges this season for hunters carrying loaded firearms in their vehicles.

Conservation officer Kevin Van Damme said having a loaded firearm in a vehicle while hunting is considered a serious safety issue.

It is particularly dangerous when conservation officers are in the midst of checking hunters, he said. Occasionally, those with a bullet in the chamber are hurriedly trying to remove it and inadvertently point their weapon at the conservation officer.

“They’re trying to unload their guns and not thinking … it’s a concern with the safety aspect.”

Having a loaded firearm in a vehicle can result in a $230 ticket and the rifle can be seized.