Open letter to Yukon MLAs:
Recently Bill 82 was introduced at the Yukon Legislative Assembly, proposing changes to the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) for the operation of off-road vehicles, including snowmobiles and ATVs. However, Bill 82 turns out to be controversial and disappointing.
Residents have already seen too much snowmobile and ATV damage to trails and green spaces, as well as unsafe operation of those machines in the City of Whitehorse. When reporting such incidents to the city’s bylaw department, I’ve realized time and again their difficulty in enforcing the bylaws because of the inability to identify offenders due to shortcomings in the current MVA.
I’m aware that, a year or so ago, the City of Whitehorse recommended a more stringent MVA with regard to ATVs and snowmobiles. However, it appears that not only Bill 82 ignores much of the city’s recommendations, but would even make the MVA weaker than it already is with regard to the operation of ATVs and snowmobiles on trails.
The current MVA requires snowmobile and ATV operators to hold a valid driver’s licence, insurance, registration and licence plate when operating on “highways,” which by MVA definition include trails. But it appears that the changes proposed in Bill 82 would allow operation of these machines on trails and off-road without the above requirements.
It is mind-boggling that Bill 82 would weaken the MVA without even taking into account the recommendations of the City of Whitehorse, where the great majority of Yukon ATV and snowmobile operators are from. Not only would Bill 82 compromise liability and safety issues for the city’s trails, but it would lower the city’s already weak ability to enforce its bylaws.
Last but not least, Bill 82 would also jeopardize our ability to protect the environment from offroad vehicle damage throughout the Yukon. Ultimately it is us, Yukoners and Whitehorse residents, who would be paying for this.
I urge you to revise Bill 82 as per the city’s recommendations, and by adding licencing, insurance and registration requirements for offroad vehicle (including snowmobile and ATV) operation on trails and elsewhere. The Yukon is also in dire need of legislation to prevent offroad vehicles from damaging the environment.