NDP calls for off road vehicle legislation

The NDP hopes that the Yukon government will bring forward off-road vehicle legislation during this sitting of the legislature. It has been a long time coming, said MLA Kate White.

The NDP hopes that the Yukon government will bring forward off-road vehicle legislation during this sitting of the legislature.

It has been a long time coming, said MLA Kate White.

“I hope that we can come up with legislation that encourages the use of trails, so we’re protecting sensitive areas,” she said. “I hope that we have legislation to address safety. I want to see helmets as mandatory. I spend quite a bit of time out in the woods and I see entire families go past on snow machines without helmets on and I think, well if your small child falls off, or an adult falls off and hits their head at 20 kilometres an hour, that’s pretty damaging.”

She doesn’t know if this is on the Yukon Party’s agenda for the sitting, which begins tomorrow, she said.

“Kind of sadly, the relationship between government and opposition is not communication both ways. So we don’t get told anything typically until after it’s been announced to the media.”

But it will be an issue she will bring up, regardless of the legislative plans of the government.

“I have received an awful lot of mail in the last month and a half, and it’s great,” said White. “And it’s people talking about their vision for the Yukon. And their vision for the Yukon involves them being able to go to alpine areas without the destruction of those sensitive areas. It’s about them being able to hunt without the animals being chased farther and farther away. It’s the idea that we won’t have any more accidents or fatalities with people hitting their heads.”

A select committee on safe operation and use of off-road vehicles delivered 14 recommendations to the legislature a year ago. It recommended developing legislative and regulatory tools to deal with both safety and environmental issues around the use of off-road vehicles.

Since then, a working group has been struck to work on implementing the recommendations.

Brad Cathers, minister of energy, mines and resources, and Currie Dixon, minister of environment, met with members of the Trails Only Yukon Association in December 2012.

Trails Only is an advocacy group dedicated to education and pushing for the regulation of off-road vehicle use in sensitive areas.

In January the ministers followed up with the group by letter, and outlined some of their plans for action.

The safety-related recommendations will be dealt with by the Highways department through the Motor Vehicles Act, according to the letter.

Environmental concerns will likely be dealt with through the Territorial Lands (Yukon) Act and the Summary Convictions Act, it added.

The letter says some good things, but fails to provide clear benchmarks or timelines for action, said White.

“It says not a lot in a whole bunch of words.”

The letter can be found on the Trails Only website.

Cathers and Dixon were not available for comment by press time.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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