City to smooth over off road vehicle bylaws

The City of Whitehorse is taking steps to plug gaps in its ATV and snowmobile bylaws that were created by recent changes to the territory's Motor Vehicles Act.

The City of Whitehorse is taking steps to plug gaps in its ATV and snowmobile bylaws that were created by recent changes to the territory’s Motor Vehicles Act.

The recommendations, made by bylaw chief Dave Pruden last week, would require users to carry a valid driver’s licence and registration, wear a helmet and meet required equipment regulations when riding within city limits.

The city introduced these requirements in 2012. But these bylaws referred to sections of Yukon’s Motor Vehicles Act that were updated in the autumn.

Those changes are likely to become law next month, so Pruden said it was good timing for the city to amend its bylaws.

The bylaw received first and second reading at Monday’s council meeting.

The city currently only has two part-time bylaw officers available to enforce the ATV and snowmobile rules, Pruden said.

“Based on their observations, we’re getting good compliance when it comes to snowmobile users wearing helmets,” he said.

“But with ATV and motorcycles there is less compliance. As far as registration and driver’s licences, the officers are telling me that the majority of users have those.

“We’re still running into people who don’t, though.”

The penalty for operating an ATV or snowmobile without a certificate is $300, while the fine for riding without insurance is $500.

Based on statistics from the past four years, 39 users were ticketed for not having insurance, while only four were ticketed for not having a helmet.

Eleven people were fined for operating in prohibited areas.

Councillor Mike Gladish raised the question about what would happen on the Alaska Highway, where the city can’t enforce those bylaws.

Pruden said it would be hard to stop users staying along the highway, but most just cross from one side to the other – meaning they could be stopped either before or after.

Dorothy Lebel, a Riverdale resident and member of Active Trails Whitehorse Association, spoke at last week’s standing committee meeting.

She said if the city is going to amend its bylaws, it should also consider increasing its list of prohibited areas.

Snowmobile users are banned from roadways such as Mountainview Road and Lewes Boulevard, and also from campgrounds, playgrounds and the downtown area.

“We want to remind council that there’s still a gap that needs to be addressed,” she said.

“There is ongoing evidence of snowmobile damage to non-motorized trails and green spaces. There is a need to designate clear, well-signed motorized trails.

Lebel said she had previously been told by Mayor Dan Curtis that changes couldn’t be made because the bylaws were too recent.

“Now that changes are being brought to the ATV and snowmobile bylaws, we would like to remind council that it needs to protect our trails and green spaces,” she added.

The fine for damaging vegetation is $300.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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