The Klondike Snowmobile Association is revving up to fight the Whitehorse bylaw department’s new proposed sledding rules.
If administration has its way, snowmobilers won’t be allowed to ride on any city streets. Currently, the machines are only banned from roads downtown.
Sledders riding within city limits would also be required to wear helmets, possess a driver’s licence and register and insure their vehicles.
And all snowmobilers would be required to take a safety course.
City councillors, who received the proposal this week, are expected to discuss the matter soon, with an aim of having a new snowmobile bylaw in place before the snow flies.
Mark Daniels, president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association, slammed the proposal as an “Ontario-type set of rules.”
“It’s not balanced. It’s an absolute kneejerk reaction to a string of complaints by particular people,” he said.
Daniels lives just two doors from a trailhead in Porter Creek. He frets that, under the proposed rules, he’d have to load his snowmobile on a trailer, haul it to the nearby trailhead and unload before riding away, then do the whole thing in reverse upon return.
“I’m fortunate enough to afford a truck and trailer. Many people aren’t.”
The territory already requires sledders who operate their machines on a highway to wear a helmet and possess a licence, registration and insurance. And, through a quirk in the Motor Vehicles Act, a highway is defined in a broad fashion, to include trails.
The territorial government doesn’t bother to enforce this law. But the Whitehorse bylaw department tries, with one officer who spends several days of the week in the winter months reminding sledders of the rules.
A territorial review of snowmobiling and ATV use recommended narrowing the definition of a highway. So city administration wants these standing rules written into the Snowmobile Bylaw.
Unless snowmobiles are plated, it’s difficult to crack down on violators, said bylaw chief Dave Pruden.
But Daniels doesn’t think licensing and registration should be required.
“All it’s doing is punishing the people who aren’t the problem. The guy who’s ripping around at 2 a.m. on a sled that’s piped out, annoying people, driving across their lawns? He’s never going to license and register his snowmobile.”
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