Policy Update: Off-Road Vehicle Management

The Province continues to consult with UBCM and over 20 other provincial stakeholders as it proceeds to develop accompanying regulations for the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act.  UBCM will be holding a pre-conference session on Monday, September 21 to profile how the new Act will affect backcountry users.

Off-road vehicle use has increased dramatically over the past decade as recreation enthusiasts take to the backcountry for their entertainment and enjoyment.  With this growth in ORV use, local governments have requested the Province to take an active role to better manage the activity. The Community Economic Development Committee has continued to monitor and advance this policy file on behalf of the membership.

In 2009, the ORV Management Framework was launched with the goal of establishing comprehensive rules for off-road vehicle use in British Columbia.  The Framework was developed in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, known as the ORV Joint Advisory Group (JAG), which includes the Chair of UBCM’s Community Economic Development Committee.  Committee Chair Art Kaehn is also guided in the ORV JAG deliberations by the valuable feedback he receives from the UBCM’s ORV local government working group. 

After extensive deliberations, the Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Act, received Royal Assent on March 24, 2014.  The 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.  It provides specific rules governing BC’s growing off-road sector, and helps ensure these vehicles are driven in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.  Many of the elements addressed in the legislation and forthcoming regulations reflect the feedback that has been provided by UBCM members.  While it has taken a long time to see results, this is an excellent example of the importance and effectiveness of the UBCM resolutions process. 

Other key components of the ORV Management Framework include an expanded definition of ORV’s, a one-time user-pay registration fee of $48 and a visible number plate (or sticker) to assist officers in identifying irresponsible ORV riders. The plates will also help officers in tracking down stolen ORVs and during search and rescue efforts in finding lost or injured riders.

The Management Framework also includes a voluntary registration system, which commenced on November 17, 2014. Implementation of mandatory registration and details on safety regulations has been deferred from June 1 to November 1, 2015. The new registration system is being implemented by ICBC. To find a broker, visit the ICBC web site.

Other details of the Framework include:

  • improved enforcement tools to better assist officers in addressing irresponsible ORV riders;
  • an increase in maximum fine for offences from $500 to up to $5,000;
  • improved road/highway crossings implemented in stages;
  • ORVs are required to have spark arrestors to meet requirements under Wildfire Act regulations; and,
  • ORV riders will be required to wear a safety helmet and use lights for low-visibility conditions.

For more details, please refer to the related news release.

For further information on the new ORV Act please contact Vera Vukelich at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

UBCM’s Community Economic Development Committee acts as an advocate for communities on resource policy matters related to fish, forests, energy, mining and agriculture. It works to connect communities to emerging economic development opportunities such as the value-added, tourism and technology sectors.  Its primary focus is to improve the regional economic development opportunities for local governments.

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