ATV riders renew call for helmet law

The Yukon Off-Road Riders Association is hopeful the territory will soon see a helmet law for all-terrain vehicles. "There's something really big coming on that," said president Chris May.

The Yukon Off-Road Riders Association is hopeful the territory will soon see a helmet law for all-terrain vehicles.

“There’s something really big coming on that,” said president Chris May.

During the lead-up to last fall’s territorial election, May asked each candidate at an environmental debate whether they’d support a helmet law.

Premier Darrell Pasloski called it a “no-brainer.”

May’s group also hopes the Yukon government will act on its promise to curb the muddy messes created by reckless riders.

But its preferred approach differs from what is proposed by Trails Only Yukon, and May seems more interested in scrapping with that rival pressure group than calling on the government to act.

“They say nobody’s doing anything because nobody’s doing exactly what they want,” he said.

May’s association wants the territory to create a simple law that would make it illegal to damage the landscape while Trails Only wants to see a law that would require ATVs to stick to established trails in fragile areas, like wetlands and alpine meadows.

Last week, Environment Minister Currie Dixon announced that a committee of government officials would craft a plan to regulate ATV use. It’s expected to produce recommendations within several months.

The Yukon Party promised during the last election it would pass new laws or regulations to manage ATV use. But Dixon told the News last week that may not happen, depending on what the committee proposes.

Both pressure groups want the territory to temporarily ban ATV riders from cutting new trails until new laws are in place. Dixon has rejected this proposal, saying it’s too extreme.

Such a law may also run afoul of First Nation final agreements, said May.

“I don’t think it’s legally possible, with the Umbrella Final Agreement, so that’s probably why. It’s probably a nightmare, legally, but the principle is there and we’d like to encourage people to voluntarily follow that.”

The riders’ association is working to bring a training program to Whitehorse, which would include a “tread lightly” lesson on how to avoid marring the landscape with ugly ruts. If all goes well, the course could be launched within a few months, said May.

“The other big message we need to get out to riders is how to handle trail conflict. We still have instances of people throwing things at people,” he said.

“We’ve asked people on both sides to treat it as assault and put an end to it.”

Contact John Thompson at

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