Advocates for the regulation of off-road vehicles say that recently tabled legislative amendments to the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act are a good first step.
“For people who have been working at this quite hard for going on four years, and talking about it for longer, it feels like something has happened, which is a positive thing,” said Ken Taylor with the Trails Only Yukon Association.
There are three aspects of the legislation that the group is pleased with, said Vern Peters, also with the association.
They are happy with the definition of off-road vehicle, which covers just about anything that can travel over the land in non-winter months, he said.
And they are happy that the amendments will allow for areas in need of special protection to be identified, said Peters.
The law also allows for enforcement personnel to be identified, which is a good thing, he said.
But the association would like to change the language so that hiring enforcers is a “must” and not a “may,” said Peters.
“Good enforcement makes for a good act.”
The group would also like to see mandatory licensing and registration, to make enforcement easier.
“You have to identify these vehicles,” said Peters. “A lot of the enforcement in other jurisdictions is actually initiated by concerned citizens who are out in the wilderness. And if these things are licensed and registered, then it’s very easy to identify. You know, take a picture and then get back to law enforcement personnel.”
Exactly how these new rules will work in practice has yet to be determined.
The government will consult on specific regulations after the legislation has passed, said Resources Minister Scott Kent in an interview last week.
Peters and Taylor said they hope the regulations will create proactive mechanisms for protecting sensitive areas.
“Are the departments going to go out and actually identify areas where there are concerns and address those concerns, or are they just going to wait and then react when somebody complains?” asked Taylor. “That’s really an essential component if this is going to be strong legislation.”
The amendments were debated in the legislature Tuesday.
NDP MLA Jim Tredger said that the law is not full enough to ensure that it will deliver on promises of environmental protection.
“This act is incomplete. What is the vision? How will this
unfold? How will we address the differences? In many ways, this goes back to square one. It doesn’t show leadership and it doesn’t show stewardship. Without accompanying legislation, it makes it very difficult for myself as a legislator to decide: will it be effective or not?”
He also mentioned that First Nation governments should be involved in developing the regulations, not just being consulted on them after they are written.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at