There's local support for ATV licensing

There's local support for ATV licensing

Non-existent ATV licensing program wins support

Similkameen politicians like the idea of putting plates on ATVs, but program is now a year behind schedule

Although some local politicians support the B.C. government’s plan to require all-terrain vehicle owners to licence their rides, a long-awaited registration system appears to be stuck in the mud.

At the urging of Director Angelique Wood, the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen agreed last week to write a letter to the provincial government to affirm its support for a system that would require identifiable number plates be attached to the machines.

“The licensing of all-terrain vehicles will create a resource or a tool to be able to monitor who’s going out and doing what,” explained Wood, who represents rural Keremeos and Hedley.

She told colleagues the idea of a support letter stemmed partly from a presentation she heard from the leader of a conservation group who spoke about the challenge of policing unidentifiable ATV riders who cause damage in the back country.

Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer said he likes the idea of licensing ATVs, but noted there are still a lot of unknowns.

“Does that mean if you buy one you have to licence it? What about if you’re a rancher and you have tenure on Crown land?” said Bauer, who’s also an RDOS director.

“Is it just a bank cheque, and as soon as you buy it you have to licence it or you can’t drive?”

Wood said she’s been told the B.C. government is still hashing out those details.

Those involved in the process have had difficulty maintaining traction.

In November 2009, the B.C. government issued a press release in which former tourism minister Kevin Krueger announced that “rules for off-road vehicle registration and licensing, helmet use, youth safety and environmental measures will be implemented over the next two years.”

Brennan Clarke, a spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, confirmed this week the government is still committed to the plan, but he offered no timeline for its enactment.

“This is a complex issue. The ministry is seeking solutions that are fair to all user groups and it’s essential to take the time to get it right,” he said in a statement.

“There remain some unresolved issues raised by stakeholders, including the need for improved enforcement tools and keeping potential costs for registration as low as possible,” Clarke explained.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders and will introduce legislation when the issues are resolved.”

Dennis Webb, who represents South Okanagan ATV clubs as first vice-president of the Quad Riders ATV Association of B.C., said his group has provided input on the licensing plan, which it supports because it will not only make riders more accountable but also help block the resale of stolen machines.

He believes taxation issues and ICBC’s readiness to handle registration and licensing have also stalled the framework’s passage into law, as did the cancellation of the fall sitting of the B.C legislature.

“I strongly think that it will be happening in the spring session next year,” he said.