Territory needs tougher ATV laws

A man was almost hit by an ATV driver on the trails near Riverdale this fall, prompting the city to call for tough laws.

A man was almost hit by an ATV driver on the trails near Riverdale this fall, prompting the city to call for tough laws.

After a local resident told him he wasn’t supposed to be on that trail, the ATV driver turned around and gunned his machine toward the resident.

The man had to jump behind a tree to escape being hit, said bylaw manager Dave Pruden at a Whitehorse council meeting to discuss ATV legislation.

The city is receiving an escalating number of complaints about ATV use in urban and environmentally sensitive areas.

Thursday, the city made recommendations to a territorial committee reviewing ATV use in the Yukon.

The city would like to see tighter regulations on who can drive the vehicles. And it wants a licence plate system that will allow drivers to be more easily tracked.

“Right now the city is near powerless to enforce its own bylaws,” said Pruden.

The Motor Vehicles Act already has policy surrounding the registration and insurance of off-road vehicles.

But Pruden would like to see those turned into enforceable legislation.

Other jurisdictions in Canada already have these laws in place, he said.

New Brunswick’s Off Road Vehicle Act requires all ATVs to be registered and dictates people younger than 16 can’t drive unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

In Prince Edward Island, an ATV dealer won’t even deliver your vehicle to you if you haven’t registered it.

“We need to be able to identify these vehicles,” said Pruden.

“If we get a licence number, then we can follow up on them.”

He’s proposing all off-road-vehicle users carry insurance and have a valid driver’s licence.

City bylaw officers can now seize a vehicle if they deem someone’s driving to be unsafe or if they’re in a prohibited zone.

But having clear territorial laws would allow the department to post signs so drivers know exactly what is expected of them.

“Our main focus is to educate,” said Pruden.

The department doesn’t want more legislation so that it can start handing out more tickets, he said.

Concrete laws would mainly give city bylaw officers tools to deal with violators.

Currently, ATV and snowmobile users can face fines ranging from $50 to $100 for not wearing a helmet or carrying insurance.

The city is proposing that a driver can only renew or obtain their driver’s licence if they’ve paid all fines related to off-road vehicles.

“If we charge people and they never have to pay, what’s the purpose?” said Pruden.

Councillor Ranj Pillai is suggesting that all ATV users must first pass a course before being allowed to drive.

Irresponsible ATV use was one of the biggest complaints he heard from people while campaigning in last year’s municipal election.

Other recommendations being made to the territory include legislating helmet and headlight use and creating a protected-areas bylaw.

The territory’s ATV consultation wraps up October 31. People can submit their comments and suggestions online at www.environmentyukon.gov.yk.ca.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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