Yukon broke promises on ATV management

Ken Taylor Special for the News The Yukon territorial government recently passed Bill No. 82 - the Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. For those of us who have been working to try to help the government understand the important issues associated with use

COMMENTARY

by Ken Taylor

The Yukon territorial government recently passed Bill No. 82 – the Act to Amend the Motor Vehicles Act. For those of us who have been working to try to help the government understand the important issues associated with use and misuse of ATVs in the territory, this should have been a good day. It was not.

In short, this legislation provided two things:

It requires that people driving snowmobiles and ATVs on maintained roads (those that are used by cars and trucks and have snow removed and potholes filled) must do what everyone else who uses maintained roads must do – have a license, register your vehicle, and hold liability insurance to protect third parties. Users of roads in nine of Yukon’s smaller communities are exempt from these rules.

In addition, helmets will have to be worn on maintained roads, and riders under 16 will have to wear a helmet all the time. Does the government believe that once a rider turns 16, they no longer are at risk of head injury?

As Porky the Pig said, “that’s all, folks!” That’s the best they could do. Is that the limit of their collective vision and wisdom on this issue? These are laughably minor alterations to existing rules and in no way do they fulfill the commitment made by the Yukon Party prior to the last election to provide legislation and regulations to manage ATVs in the Yukon wilderness. Often in these matters a lot can be learned, not from what is done, but instead by what is not done. What was not done here, and what most definitely should have been done, was to provide for registration of all ATVs, regardless of where they are being used.

Now, let me provide some context. TOYA, Trails Only Yukon Association, has been working on behalf of its 434 members for the past five years to raise public awareness about the damage being done to Yukon wilderness by ATVs. We have also been attempting to educate territorial government politicians (the public servants already get it) to help them understand the scope of damage already done in the wilderness, and the need for immediate action to limit further destruction. We have commissioned polls (93 per cent of Yukoners want ATVs managed in the Yukon wilderness). We have held public meetings and they have been very well attended. The vast majority of Yukon people want something to be done.

To its credit, the government passed amendments to the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act a year ago. This was supposed to be enabling legislation that would allow the development of regulations to manage ATVs. We were assured that there would be early consultations with Yukon people on the content of these important regulations, but that has not happened. Nothing was done in the spring, nothing in the summer, and nothing in the fall.

And while the government dithers, the damage continues to mount.

So why is Bill 82 so important? Because what the government refused to do was provide for registration of all ATVs. Does this mean that they have no intention of enforcing whatever regulations they put in place? Even a child can see that if you can’t identify an offending ATV and its user, you have very little chance of successfully prosecuting that person. Minister Dixon told CBC radio that registration is not necessary because you can easily see the color of the ATV and the color of the helmet on the rider. Strangely, he is not requiring helmets to be worn by almost all riders, so there goes that theory! No enforcement officer in his or her right mind is going to go before a judge and seek a conviction on the basis of a red ATV with a blue helmet. And therein lies the folly of Bill 82.

Registration is a big deal. Every provincial jurisdiction in Canada with the exception of Alberta requires it. British Columbia recently passed off road vehicle legislation that was supported by a broad cross section of B.C. residents including ATV user groups. It provided for a one-time $48 registration and licence plate. Not much for something so critical to effective enforcement. We are required to register our boats in the Yukon. ATVs should be no different.

Trust is built by what we do, not by what we say. This government has not done what it said it would do, and Yukon people cannot be expected to trust the government if it continues to delay, stonewall, and hide from its responsibility to provide wise stewardship of our beautiful territory. Most ATV riders are responsible people who love the Yukon, and they will benefit from effective prosecution of those who choose to damage our wildlife and wilderness. The government should reconsider the shortcomings of this legislation and fix the problem. It’s a matter of trust.

Ken Taylor wrote this commentary with input from TOYA steering committee members Vern Peters, Ellen Johnson, Pete Harms, Tony Grabowski, Philip Merchant and Manfred Hoefs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Patti Balsillie will be running for the mayor’s seat in Whitehorse in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Submitted)
Balsillie aims to serve as city’s mayor

Says she has the time, skill set to serve in full-time role

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Don Hutton resigns from Liberal caucus; endorses NDP leadership

Hutton said his concerns about alcohol abuse and addictions have gone unaddressed

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read